UK’s Johnson Faces More Questions About Personal Spending By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: British Prime Minister Johnson and Finance Minister Sunak visit a school in London

By Guy Faulconbridge LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced further allegations on Sunday over his spending on remodeling his apartment and caring for his young son’s children, which his Foreign Minister dismissed as unfounded gossip. Johnson has repeatedly weathered gaffes, Brexit crisis and adultery revelations, but the revelation that he and his fiancée, Carrie Symonds, spent lavishly to redecorate his residence with a royally celebrated designer has hit a nerve. Johnson, one of the leaders of the 2016 campaign to leave the European Union, is grappling with a series of allegations about his spending and the management of his core team at the center of the British government that opponents say prove he is not suitable for the position. Johnson has repeatedly said he paid to remodel his Downing Street apartment, but the Elections Commission says he has reason to suspect a crime was committed in financing the work. The Sunday Times said the total cost of the work was around 200,000 pounds ($ 276,000) and that one invoice was settled directly by a Conservative Party donor, a benefit in kind that would have to be reported to tax authorities. The newspaper also reported that a Conservative Party donor had been asked to pay for a babysitter for Johnson’s young son Wilfred. “I don’t mind paying for brochures, but it bothers me that they ask me to pay to literally clean the prime minister’s baby bottom,” the unidentified donor said. Johnson’s Downing Street office did not address the reported renovation costs, but said in a statement: “The Prime Minister has covered the costs of all childcare.” The Conservative Party declined to comment on the report. TITTLE TATTLE Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab declined to directly answer who initially paid for the work, saying he “had no idea” if a donor had been asked to pay for Johnson’s childcare. “The last topic you asked about is an example of gossip,” Raab told Sky TV. He said Johnson had been “crystal clear” about the apartment’s renovation costs. Ahead of Thursday’s local elections in most of Britain, some opinion polls show Johnson’s ratings have fallen. His party is also facing parliamentary parliamentary elections in Hartlepool in northern England, which the opposition Labor Party has controlled for decades. Such is the uproar over the cost of the Downing Street redevelopment that Johnson last week even expressed his “love” for John Lewis, a retailer adored by millions of British voters. Tatler magazine had quoted an unidentified source as saying that work had improved the apartment after the “John Lewis furniture nightmare” inherited from former Prime Minister Theresa May. ($ 1 = 0.7239 pounds)

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