UK

London Mayor Tells ‘Smug’ Tory MPs Defending BoJo Amid ‘Sleaze’ Row to ‘Look in The Mirror’

The “cash for cushions” controversy that called into question the financing of lavish refurbishment works on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s flat in Downing Street has gained traction in the media days ahead of elections for local councils and mayors in the UK.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has weighed in on the attempts by Conservative MPs to defend Boris Johnson’s lack of transparency over the funding of his Downing Street flat renovations.

“Those politicians who are using that script should have a look at themselves in the mirror. Boris Johnson will sooner or later be gone, and they will have to explain what they said, day after day, about his behaviour. Those Tories who are maybe feeling a bit smug and arrogant – they should just pause and reflect on what that means about them, and what it says, in their view, about the British public,” Khan was quoted by The Guardian as saying.

The London mayor, standing for re-election on 6 May, predicted “sleaze” and cronyism would eventually sap the popular support for the government.

“I don’t think it is the case that the British public accept a prime minister who is involved in sleaze or cronyism. It’s not ‘priced in’. That is so offensive to British voters.”

‘Tory Sleaze’

Earlier, amid the “cash for cushions” allegations, cited by opponents as just the latest example of “Tory sleaze”, Conservative ministers stated that Boris Johnson “has met the costs” of the renovation work on his official residence above offices at No. 11 Downing Street, declining to discuss what might have happened initially.

“What I know is the prime minister has personally met the costs of the flat refurbishment and that is what people in Britain want to know,” UK Trade Minister Liz Truss was cited as saying by the BBC.

Boris Johnson has been under fire amid calls to explain how the lavish renovation was paid for, following allegations from ex-chief adviser Dominic Cummings.

The PM’s former spin doctor, sacked by the prime minister last year, said earlier that his one-time boss had nurtured “unethical, foolish, possibly illegal” plans to get Conservative Party donors to fund refurbishment of the apartment – rumoured to cost around £200,000 – where he resides with his partner, Carrie Symonds, and their son.

Furthermore, a leaked e-mail revealed Tory peer Lord Brownlow had donated £58,000 towards the project, asking it be attributed to a “soon-to-be-formed Downing Street Trust.”

Johnson has denied any wrongdoing, claiming he has since paid for the total cost of the refurbishments, while declining to answer key questions about who paid what and when.

“What do we get from this prime minister and this 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,” Keir Starmer, leader of the opposition Labour Party, ranted during a debate in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

Britain’s Electoral Commission watchdog opened an probe into the now-scandalous refurbishments, saying there were “reasonable grounds to suspect that an offense, or offenses, may have occurred.”

Labour ‘Laying the Foundations’

Elsewhere in his interview for The Guardian, Sadiq Khan reflected on the upcoming local and mayoral elections on 6 May, saying that under Keir Starmer’s leadership, the Labour Party was still “laying the foundations” for its return.

If results prove disheartening, said Khan, it should not be viewed as a sign Starmer had failed. He added that sleaze allegations would eventually take their toll on poll numbers.

“What people don’t realise, when you look at polls, is it takes time – the drip, drip, drip, drip. I lived through the banking crisis, I lived through the phone-hacking crisis, MPs’ expenses, and it doesn’t happen overnight.”

London’s Labour mayor is the overwhelming favourite to win a second term.

 

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