Everything you need to know about the Boris Johnson redecorating scandal


2020 has not been an easy year for Boris Johnson. Between negotiating a Brexit end date and adopting what some saw as a slow and confusing approach to dealing with the pandemic, the current British Prime Minister has suffered from a severe episode of COVID- 19, welcomed a baby and had to delay her marriage to the elder. Conservative Party Communications Leader Carrie Symonds.

So it might seem hard to blame the couple for doing what so many others did during the foreclosure – embark on a home improvement project. Unlike the rest of us, however, who have spent the past 14 months repainting walls or scrubbing home office furniture, Johnson and Symonds’ wallpaper choices have been subjected to a certain level of ethical scrutiny. .

Last week, the UK Election Commission, an independent regulatory oversight body, opened an investigation into allegations Johnson and Symonds paid to give their residence at 11 Downing Street (next to the Prime Minister’s offices) a makeover lavish using undeclared funds from a curator. Party donor or donors. According to Daily mail, an initial assessment by the Election Commission left the regulator “satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to suspect that one or more offenses may have been committed”.

The problem is an alleged £ 58,000 (around $ 80,500) of undeclared Conservative funds used for renovations, although some UK media believe the actual number could be closer to £ 200,000 – or more than $ 277,000. Either way, that’s almost double the annual renovation budget of £ 30,000 ($ 42,000) allocated to prime ministers living in Downing Street – and a little more than the £ 500 ($ 700) threshold at- above which any loan or donation to a UK legislator must be declared. within 28 days.

Although the source of the funding raises ethical concerns, this is far from the only time that a PM has renovated Downing Street residences. The Blairs took a bit of heat in 2002 for their own expensive redesign, while David Cameron and Theresa May each brought their own family’s design preferences to the space respectively.

Details on the renovations themselves came out in drops and gray. the Independent reports that Johnson and Symonds bought a wallpaper for £ 840 per roll ($ 1,165) inspired by the design aesthetic of Lulu Lytle, co-founder of furniture maker Soane Britain. A Tatler The magazine’s profile alleges that other changes to the residence include vintage furniture for the nursery of the couple’s newborn son, Wilfred, and that Symonds also “had the lobby floors stripped and the floors browned. . According to an anonymous visitor to the renovated apartment, the space is meant to be very different from the “John Lewis furniture nightmare” that defined Theresa May’s vision for furnishings.

This anonymous quote turned this particular chain of upscale UK department stores into something of a tipping point in the days after the scandal broke. Labor leader Keir Starmer held a cheeky photoshoot where he searched John Lewis for wallpaper, and Johnson recently told reporters: ‘I love John Lewis’ as part of a wider denial of any act objectionable. The brand also mocked its unexpected brush with the scandal on Twitter.

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The Election Commission has yet to lay direct charges on who paid what to whom. But Dominic Cummings, who was ousted from Johnson’s chief adviser in November 2020, fueled the fire last week in a recent blog post chronicling the renovations.

‘The Prime Minister stopped talking to me about this issue in 2020 because I told him that I thought his plans for donors to secretly pay for the renovation were unethical, foolish, maybe illegal, and almost certainly violated the rules on the proper disclosure of political donations if they were made. as he planned, ”Cummings wrote. “I refused to help him organize these payments [and] my knowledge about them is therefore limited.

It remains to be seen what the Election Commission might find, where that paper trail might lead, and what impact, if any, it will ultimately have on Johnson’s tenure. But if you’re worried about the logistics of any upcoming home renovations yourself, take comfort in knowing that your project at least (likely) won’t involve an ethics investigation.

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