After Tatler revealed that last autumn Carrie Symonds had turned to sprucing up the Downing Street flat she shares with Boris Johnson, improving the ‘John Lewis furniture nightmare’ of the May years, there’s been huge speculation about the cost involved.
A source told the BBC the interior designer Lulu Lytle, co-founder of Soane Britain, has been involved in the upgrade, estimated to cost a six-figure sum, helping turn the PM’s home into a high society haven, with furniture and prints loved by some of the grandest houses across the country.
There were reports that the extensive refurbishment was being partly funded by Tory donors and today the Daily Mail has revealed that government chiefs are now considering returning some of that money after facing a backlash.
The newspaper reports, ‘After handing the money (£60,000) back to multi-millionaire Lord Brownlow, they reportedly plan to ask him to pay the same amount directly to the Cabinet Office.’
Adding, ‘It will then allegedly be declared as a donation not from him but from a new Downing Street trust he has been asked to lead by the Prime Minister.’
This tactic will apparently ‘gloss over where the money really came from – and enable Mr Johnson to publicly declare that cash for new décor ordered by fiancée Carrie Symonds has come from a trust, not the Tory party or directly from donors’, says the Daily Mail.
It’s thought that the Cabinet Office has contributed around £30,000 of taxpayers’ money, which is considered the maximum annual public grant available to prime ministers for the upkeep of their accommodation – the same amount used by the Camerons when they completed redecoration works.
It’s believed that the PM is unable to privately fund the remaining balance, with sources claiming this is due to ‘an expensive divorce’ and his outgoings for ‘at least six children’ which may have led him to sourcing the money from the party.
Using donor money for the refurbishment caused outrage among other party donors who expected their funds to be used for political campaigns rather than wallpaper.
A No. 10 spokesman however told the Daily Mail that party funds ‘are not being used’ to pay for the refurbishment of the flat.
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