An in-depth article in Tatler reveals that Symonds, 32, has been overhauling the flat to remove all vestiges of Theresa May’s “John Lewis furniture nightmare”.
Owl believes that ardent Tory, Philip Skinner, has a grand mahogany dining table that is definitely not John Lewis; perhaps he could donate it to a cash strapped PM?
Extract from Oliver Wright, Policy Editor www.thetimes.co.uk
Boris Johnson’s plan to set up a charity to help pay for improvements to Downing Street is “inappropriate” and “monstrous”, a former standards chief has said.
The prime minister reportedly wants the new body to be based on one used by the White House to raise millions of dollars for interior design, antiques and art. He is said to be struggling to fund the makeover of his official flat by his fiancée, Carrie Symonds.
Johnson is said to have asked Lord Brownlow of Shurlock Row, a Tory peer and multimillionaire financier with close links to the royal family, to run the charity. An application to register it with the Charity Commission is said to be under way.
The charity could be funded by private donors, which would risk claims of a conflict of interest if it were seen as a backdoor way of providing benefit to the prime minister.
While its official purpose would be to raise funds to preserve No 10 and No 11 on heritage grounds, insiders say that the plans stemmed from the costs of Symonds’s makeover.
Sir Alistair Graham, a former chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, told The Times that the charity idea was “quite inappropriate”.
Graham said: “It looks like he is seeking to set up the charity for personal benefit rather than for the benefit of a wider group in need. I would quite like to set a charity up to refurbish my flat in York, but I don’t think it’s a practical proposition. That’s not what charities are for: to provide enhanced living standards for the prime minister and his wife.”
Graham said that the idea of the charity being funded by party donors was “monstrous”. He said: “If you’re making a donation, you’re making it to a political party for the purposes of ensuring that party stays in power, you don’t do it for the personal benefit of the leader of the party. It would seem to me an abuse of his position as prime minister. I cannot believe how it crossed his mind. If there is a need to do certain things in terms of maintenance, that should be paid out of government funds.”
An in-depth article in Tatler reveals that Symonds, 32, has been overhauling the flat to remove all vestiges of Theresa May’s “John Lewis furniture nightmare”. The flat, above No 11 Downing Street, is larger than the one over No 10 and has been used by every prime minister since Tony Blair took it over.
In a separate piece the Daily Mail said that Johnson, 56, had complained that the cost of the project was “totally out of control”. The decor is said to have been inspired by Lulu Lytle, a celebrated eco-interior designer, who makes furniture “based on traditional crafts, including blacksmiths”.
Johnson is said to have first expressed concern last year after being informed by the Cabinet Office that the maximum taxpayer contribution would be about £30,000……