The Prime Minister has been accused of lying over flat renovation costs, with his own spokesman refusing to say whether he received a loan from the party to pay for it.
And today, the Electoral Commission announced a formal investigation will take place into the makeover of Boris Johnson's Downing Street flat.
PMQs RECAP: Johnson grilled by MPs over accusations of ‘Tory sleaze’
Last updated: Wednesday, 28 April, 2021, 13:08
- PM denies making ‘bodies pile high’ comments
- Johnson: ‘I paid for Downing Street renovations'
- Electoral Commission suspects 'offence' in funding of Boris Johnson's flat renovation
- Johnson questioned over links to Lord Brownlow
- Labour accused of ‘playing political games'
- Blackford says PM ‘up to his neck in a slump of Tory sleaze’
Key moments from PMQs
Electoral Commission suspects 'offence' in funding of Boris Johnson's flat renovation
A formal investigation will take place into the makeover of Boris Johnson's Downing Street flat, the electoral commission has announced.
A spokesman said that the organisation was satisfied there were “reasonable grounds to suspect an offence or offences may have occurred.”
He added: “We have been in contact with the Conservative Party since late March and have conducted an assessment of the information they have provided to us.
“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.”
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Watch PMQs live here
Boris Johnson is expected to face tough questions today in a week that has seen a return of ‘Tory sleaze’.
PM denies making ‘bodies pile high’ comments
Opening PMQs, Sir Keir Starmer said: “It was reported this week, including in the Daily Mail, the BBC and ITV – backed up by numerous sources – that at the end of October the Prime Minister said he would rather have, and I quote, ‘bodies pile high’ than implement another lockdown.
“Can the Prime Minister tell the House categorically yes or no, did he make those remarks or remarks to that effect?”
The Prime Minister replied: “No. And (Sir Keir) is a lawyer, I am given to understand, and I think if he is going to repeat allegations like that he should come to this House and substantiate those allegations, and say where he heard them and who exactly is supposed to have said those things.”
He added: “Lockdowns are miserable, lockdowns are appalling things to have to do, but I have to say that I believe we had absolutely no choice.”
Murray: ‘Conduct of the PM weakens the Union'
Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland Ian Murray said: “Endless questions about Tory sleaze and the personal conduct of the PM weakens the union.
“Today’s announcement of the Electoral Commission investigation drives home that if the incompetent and scandal-hit Tories remain the main opposition at Holyrood, the SNP will be able to hide its own failings behind Tory failure.
“That’s why it’s so important to ensure the Conservatives aren’t the main opposition after May 6.
“For a parliament focused on our national recovery, use both votes, especially the peach ballot paper, to back Scottish Labour.”
Johnson: ‘I paid for Downing Street renovations'
Sir Keir Starmer also questioned who paid for the redecoration of the Prime Minister’s Downing Street flat.
The Labour leader said: “Well, somebody here isn’t telling the truth. The House will have heard the Prime Minister’s answer and I remind him that the Ministerial Code says, and I quote, ‘ministers who knowingly mislead Parliament will be expected to offer their resignation'”.
Sir Keir continued: “Who initially, and Prime Minister, initially is the key word here, who initially paid for the redecoration of his Downing Street flat?”
Mr Johnson told MPs: “I paid for the Downing Street refurbishment personally”, adding “any further declaration that I have to make – if any – I will be advised upon by Lord Geidt”, the new adviser on ministers’ interests.
‘I did not use those words'
PM ‘actively trying to filibuster PMQs'
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Starmer: ‘Answer the question'
Sir Keir Starmer said the public “scream at their televisions” for Boris Johnson to “answer the question” at Prime Minister’s Questions, telling the Commons: “The Prime Minister hasn’t answered the question, he knows he hasn’t answered the question, he never answers the question.”
The Labour leader reminded Mr Johnson he is required to declare any benefits that relate to his political activities, including loans or credit arrangements, within 28 days.
He added: “He will also know any donation must be recorded in the register of ministers’ interests and, under the law, any donation of over £500 to a political party must be registered and declared. So, the rules are very clear.
“The Electoral Commission now thinks there are reasonable grounds to suspect an offence or offences may have occurred. That’s incredibly serious. Can the Prime Minister tell the House does he believe that any rules or laws have been broken in relation to the refurbishment of the Prime Minister’s flat?”
Mr Johnson replied: “No, I don’t. What I believe has been strained to breaking point is the credulity of the public.”
The Prime Minister argued Sir Keir had failed to put “serious and sensible” questions to him about the pandemic or other issues, noting: “He goes on and on about wallpaper when I’ve told him umpteen times now, I paid for it.”
PM: I met my obligations on Downing Street renovations
I have met the requirements that I have been obliged to meet in full.
Questions on Lord Brownlow
Sir Keir Starmer asked whether Lord Brownlow made a contribution to cover the cost of the Downing Street flat refurbishment and asked the Prime Minister to confirm “did Lord Brownlow make that payment for that purpose?”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “I think I have answered this question several times now and the answer is that I have covered the cost.
PM asked whether he is a liar
Ian Blackford, SNP
The BBC and ITV have multiple sources who are willing to confirm under oath that the Prime Minister said he was willing to let the bodies pile up. Are you a liar, Prime Minister?
‘Selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership'
Sir Keir Starmer listed the principles meant to govern those in public office, telling the Commons: “Selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.
“Instead, what do we get from this Prime Minister and Conservative government?
“Dodgy contracts, jobs for their mates and cash for access – and who is at the heart of it? The Prime Minister, major sleaze sitting there.”
The Labour leader then criticised the Government’s record on crime, NHS waiting lists and jobs, adding: “Don’t the British people deserve a Prime Minister they can trust and a Government that isn’t mired in sleaze, cronyism and scandal?”
Labour playing political games, says Johnson
Boris Johnson delivered a fiery and shouty response to Sir Keir and defended his record in Government, also telling MPs: “Last night our friends in the European Union voted to approve our Brexit deal – which he opposed.”
Mr Johnson went on: “Week after week the people of this country can see the difference between a Labour Party that twists and turns with the wind and thinks of nothing except playing political games, whereas this party gets on with delivering on the people’s priorities.”