No10 has refused to rule out taxpayers footing the bill for a lavish revamp of Boris Johnson’s grace-and-favour flat.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman repeatedly refused to say today if the state would fund a refurbishment of the four-bed quarters above 11 Downing Street, overseen by his fiancee Carrie Symonds.
Instead No10 said the public must wait until this summer when details are published in the annual accounts of the Cabinet Office.
The changes come just a decade after the flat was reworked by David and Samantha Cameron, including £30,000 on a new kitchen.
Ms Symonds has removed Theresa May ’s “John Lewis furniture nightmare” and paintings by British artist John Nash hang alongside works by the PM himself, according to an article in Tatler.
The Daily Mail reported the revamp includes “gold wall coverings” and was inspired by interior designer Lulu Lytle, whose fabrics that cost upwards of £100 per metre.
The newspaper claimed Boris Johnson is now trying to set up a heritage charity to maintain Downing Street, including both public state rooms and the private flat, after the costs ran “totally out of control”.
That would spare taxpayers some of the bill – but comes with its own conflict-of-interest concerns if donors effectively fund the PM’s private living quarters through a charity.
No10 refused to deny any aspect of the Daily Mail story, including if taxpayer funds had been spent on the revamp or if the PM was looking to set up a charity to help fund it.
No10 also refused to say if its 2019 promise that Carrie Symonds’ residence in Downing Street would bear “no additional cost” to the taxpayer was still true.
Asked directly if the promise was still true, the PM’s Press Secretary Allegra Stratton, replied: “I’m not going to comment on speculation and I don’t know the answer to that question.”
She said the claim the PM would set up a charity was “speculation” but then told journalists “I am not able to give you any guidance” on whether it was true.
Ms Stratton went on: “Downing Street is maintained to appropriate standards for the Grade I and II listed building that it is. The Cabinet Office is in oversight of that.
“As things stand, there’s already a process in place for maintaining it to the right standard.”
Asked why the flat was being refurbished again after only 10 years, the PM’s official spokesman replied: “As I say, Downing Street is a working building.
“It obviously contains two ministerial residences.
“As it has been under successive administrations, refurbishments are made periodically.
“The details of that are set out in the Cabinet Office annual report.”