A Tory donor was asked to fund a nanny for Boris Johnson’s baby because the Prime Minister can’t survive on his £157,372-a-year salary, bombshell reports say today.
The ‘cash for curtains’ saga has deepened after the claims in the Sunday Times – which reported the twice-divorced PM needs £300,000 a year to survive his high living costs.
That is more than 10 times the average salary in the UK. Even the PM’s existing salary puts him well within the top 2% of earners.
The donor is alleged to have moaned to an MP: “I don’t mind paying for leaflets but I resent being asked to pay to literally wipe the Prime Minister’s baby’s bottom.”
A No 10 spokeswoman said: “The Prime Minister has covered the cost of all childcare.”
But she did not respond when asked if Mr Johnson paid for the original bill for Wilfred – who he had with fiancee Carrie Symonds last year and is at least his sixth child – or had reimbursed somebody else.
Today’s Sunday Times also carries shock claims that Tory chiefs footed a bill for the PM’s £165-an-hour personal trainer, and a personal chef when he was hospitalised with Covid.
Tory co-chairman Ben Elliot has denied both claims, according to the newspaper.
The row opens fresh questions about who could be trading favours with the skint Prime Minister after a lavish revamp of his grace-and-favour flat above 11 Downing Street.
No10 have insisted the Prime Minister paid for his fiancee Carrie Symonds’ £58,000 refurbishment of the Downing Street flat himself.
But crucially they have repeatedly refused to say if Mr Johnson – who had a costly divorce from wife of 25 years Marina Wheeler – borrowed the money to do so.
Neither a donation or a loan has yet been declared publicly through the UK authorities – meaning the public don’t know if a private donor could have leverage over the PM.
According to the Sunday Times, Mr Johnson has told friends he needs to earn about £300,000 a year to keep his head above water. A former No 10 insider said it was “received wisdom” that he is permanently broke.
Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy told Sky News: “Off the back of 11 years of huge cuts to public services and austerity, when ordinary families have seen their incomes squeezed and struggled to pay their childcare costs, it’s extraordinary that we’ve got a Prime Minister who’s going round saying he can’t possibly afford to pay for his own childcare costs.”
Ms Nandy said there was a “pattern of behaviour” of Boris Johnson’s “arrogance” where he “refuses to tell the truth” – and believes the rules don’t apply to him.
She told Sky News: “The Prime Minister is withholding information from the public that rightly belongs in the public domain.
“It’s appalling that we’re in a situation where he won’t come clean about who loaned or gave him money and what favours or promises may have been given in return.”
Today the PM has tried to shift the focus by vowing to crack down on a “crime wave” of drug gangs and dog-nappers – days after authorities began a probe into whether offences have been committed.
The Electoral Commission, the watchdog for political donations, said on Wednesday: “We are now satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to suspect that an offence or offences may have occurred.
“We will therefore continue this work as a formal investigation to establish whether this is the case.
“The investigation will determine whether any transactions relating to the works at 11 Downing Street fall within the regime regulated by the Commission and whether such funding was reported as required.
The Prime Minister faces questions over works overseen by his fiancee Carrie Symonds in the four-bed living space above 11 Downing Street – traditionally used by PMs as it is bigger and more luxurious than the two-bed flat above No10.
When they arrived in 2019, a No10 spokeswoman said there would not be “any additional cost to the taxpayer” of Ms Symonds living there.
But the 32-year-old has since removed Theresa May ’s “John Lewis furniture nightmare”, according to an article in Tatler – a decade since David and Samantha Cameron had a £30,000 new kitchen fitted.
The makeover is said to have been inspired by designer Lulu Lytle, and include £840-a-roll wallpaper, a £9,800 Baby Bear sofa and a £3,000 Lily Drum table.
Although earlier polls suggested the “sleaze” allegations were not significantly denting public support for the Tories, fresh surveys gave evidence to the contrary.
The Conservatives fell to a five-point lead over Labour, with 42% compared to 37%, according to the Opinium poll of more than 2,000 adults between Wednesday and Friday.
That put the Tories down two points and Labour up four compared to a week earlier, halving the Conservatives’ lead ahead of the elections, in which some 48 million people are eligible to vote.
And in separate polling, Focaldata put Labour on 39%, one point behind the Tories, who previously had a healthy lead, according to The Sunday Times.
Mr Johnson has denied breaking any laws over the refurbishment of his official residence in No 11 and insisted he had paid “personally” for the works.
But he has refused to say whether he received an initial loan from the Tory party, as Downing Street launched two separate reviews into the controversy.
Questions intensified when former aide Dominic Cummings accused Mr Johnson of wanting donors to “secretly pay” for the works in a “possibly illegal” move.
The Daily Mail then reported that Tory donor Lord Brownlow, who’d originally looked at setting up a trust to fund No10 repairs, had reimbursed £58,000 for the works.
The Sunday Times has raised fresh questions about the flow of money, quoting Tory sources who said there was a second invoice settled by a third party for more money on top of the £58,000.
Mr Johnson has insisted he will declare anything that needs declaring – but the register of ministers’ interests has not been published since July last year.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab today refused to rule out the existence of a second invoice, and refused to say who initially paid for the flat refurbishment, despite insisting the PM had been “very clear” he’d followed the rules.
He told Sky News: “There are three reviews now into this and I think the right thing for me to do is not add political commentary that could otherwise prejudice those reviews.”
He also admitted: “Frankly I don’t know any of the other details of it.”
Asked if a Tory donor was asked to fund the PM’s childcare costs, Mr Raab replied: “I’ve no idea, I don’t have conversations like that with the Prime Minister.”
Asked if £157,000 a year was a decent salary Mr Raab replied: “Yes, of course it is.”
One of the three investigations is a probe by Lord Geidt, the new advisor on ministerial interests.
But Mr Raab admitted Boris Johnson will get to decide for himself whether he’d broken the Ministerial Code.
He told Sky News: “The PM is the ultimate arbiter of, the ultimate accountability for the Ministerial Code. He has the authority to dismiss ministers, to make sure they live up to the code.
“So if your question is then ‘who holds him to account’, ultimately… there’s no separate body or individual that will have power over him. It’s the British people, he’s accountable to them, that’s why we have elections.”