The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is trying to found a non-profit organization that can raise funds for the renovation and decoration of the apartment where he lives. Boris Johnson lives with his fiancee, Carrie Symonds, and baby Wilfred at 11 Downing Street. The objective will be, under the pretext of preserving the historic building, to redecorate the house to the couple’s expensive taste.
No. 10 Downing Street is home to the seat of Government and the official residence of the Prime Minister. Beside, in No. 11, the Minister of Finance has traditionally lived. In recent years, however, several prime ministers have chosen to reside in No. 11, which has a larger area.
The costs of renovating the prime ministers’ private spaces are foreseen in the law, there is a budget for this and the taxpayers know it, as the accounts are public. But this budget has a ceiling: 30,000 pounds of public money (about 35,000 euros). Now, what is going on in the British press is that Johnson and Symonds will have spent a lot more.
It’s not about charity
Faced with the information released by the daily “Daily Mail”, Johnson’s office did not deny it. “The Downing Street building complex is a work space, which also contains the homes of two members of the Government. Maintenance works or redecoration of these spaces have been commonplace across several governments, ”said a spokesman.
According to the London tabloid, the Chief Executive spoke with David Brownlow, a member of the House of Lords, wealth manager and former deputy director of the Conservative Party, to manage the entity to be created.
This putative entity, described in the British press as charity, is not analogous to what in Portugal we would call “institution of social solidarity”. In the United Kingdom, the concept covers many other objectives, such as the preservation of natural parks and monuments, real estate, purchase of works of art for public places, among other categories.
Johnson would therefore create a philanthropic body to collect donations to redecorate his home, while presenting it to potential funders as a project to conserve the urban heritage of Downing Street. For the time being, there has not yet been a request to the commission to manage the charities in the UK, he writes “The Daily Telegraph”.
Carrie Symonds doesn’t like Theresa May’s furniture
A source close to the prime minister told the Daily Mail that Johnson himself described the bride’s spending as “totally out of control”. In meetings he will have spoken of “tens and tens of thousands of pounds”, on another occasion “more than a hundred thousand pounds”.
This month’s issue of “Tatler” magazine, dedicated to social life, has Carrie Symonds on the cover. The corresponding text mentions its influence on British politics, and another major theme is the remodeling of the apartment.
Johnoson’s bride explains that she wanted to get rid of the “nightmare of furniture bought at John Lewis” with which former Prime Minister Theresa May will have furnished the apartment. John Lewis sells traditional and minimalist household items.
On the other side of the sea it is also redecorating
In the United States of America it is tradition for a new President’s family to completely redecorate the interior of the White House. “The Washington Post” has in its digital edition this Tuesday the photograph of a completely red room, from the walls to the sofas. It is in one of the divisions that Melania Trump, the wife of the former President, remodeled. The amount available for this purpose is close to 100 thousand dollars (about 83 thousand euros).
The news that the remodeling of No. 11 Downing Street exceeded the established ceiling gave rise to another subject that was much discussed in the British press in the last year: the influence of Symonds, former Conservative Party communication director, on political positions Johnson.
A group of conservative academics, the Bow Group, has officially requested an inquiry into its “possible influence” in the government. Downing Street just said Symonds’ analysis of the legislative agenda was “incorrect”.
In November 2020, news emerged that she had been the driving force behind the removal of two of the oldest and most influential prime minister advisers, Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain. The first was exonerated by the prime minister and the second decided to resign when an offer made to him to assume the post of chief of staff was withdrawn without much explanation.
Sources close to Downing Street at the time commented to British newspapers that they both lost Johnson’s trust due to Symonds’ influence.
Source site expresso.pt