Boris Johnson today dodged questions from Keir Starmer at PMQs over who initially paid for the refurbishment of his Downing Street flat.
Mr Johnson said he paid for the flat “personally” but failed to deny that some of the money came from Tory donor Lord Brownlow.
It comes as the Electoral Commission has today launched a formal investigation into Mr Johnson’s flat renovation.
The crisis enveloping the prime minister deepened as the political spending watchdog said there were “reasonable grounds” to suspect an offence had been committed.
Meanwhile, MEPs branded Brexit a “historic mistake” in a debate prior to voting to ratify Mr Johnson’s trade deal by 660 votes to five, with 32 abstentions.
John Lewis mocks PM on social media over flat controversy
John Lewis has poked fun at Boris Johnson on social media in relation to the ongoing controversy over the refurbishment of his Downing Street flat.
The lavish update of the No11 decor was reportedly inspired by a desire to get rid of the “John Lewis furniture nightmare” left over by Theresa May.
On Twitter, John Lewis said: “Time for an interiors refresh? We pride our Home Design Service on having something for *almost* everyone.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s spokesman said “unlike the Prime Minister he doesn’t turn his nose up to John Lewis thinking it’s too downmarket” and “wouldn’t spend £840 per roll on wallpaper”.
Boris Johnson deflects Electoral Commission probe into flat makeover
Boris Johnson is insisting he is not personally in the frame for possible “offences” in the funding of his lavish flat makeover, after a watchdog launched an investigation.
Downing Street said the prime minister would cooperate with the Electoral Commission’s inquiry, but added: “This is a specific matter for the Conservative Party.”
The Independent’s deputy political editor Rob Merrick reports
Analysis: The Brexit trade deal may have been ratified by MEPs – but the economic conflict is just starting
The Independent’s economics editor Ben Chu writes that even though the trade deal is ratified the UK “now faces an economic relationship with the EU likely to be fractious, uncomfortable and potentially unstable.”
He added: “The simple fact is that, outside the bloc, there is no EU law for the UK to cite to protect our economic interests.
“We have no representatives to fight our corner in the Brussels bureaucratic machine. We have no voice in its political councils. We are outside the tent.”
Boris Johnson’s furious rant during PMQs has become a hilarious meme
It’s safe to say Boris Johnson lost his cool a bit at PMQs today after being questioned by Labour leader Keir Starmer about the controversy over the funding of his Downing Street flat and alleged comments about “bodies piling high” during the pandemic.
An image of the PM ranting and raving quickly spread on social media and has spawned a number of hilarious memes.
Kate Plummer and Greg Evans report
Boris Johnson’s government is starting to look actively hostile towards Britain’s world-leading music scene
Sports Team singer Alex Rice writes that the government rhetoric in defence of festivals has been pathetic and that the public needs live music more than ever after a tough year in the Covid-19 pandemic.
Tory party ‘full of scandal and sleaze’ says Labour’s Rayner
Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said the Conservative Party was “completely full of scandal and sleaze’’.
She told the PA: “It really stinks, what’s been going on. We’ve seen billions of pounds being given to mates who’ve got the WhatsApp of the Prime Minister, or who just happens to have an affair with the Prime Minister, or somebody who has been linked to one of the ministers.”
On Twitter the MP branded Mr Johnson a “charalatan” and a “disgrace” during PMQs.
Boris Johnson will not apologise for false attack on Labour in Commons
Boris Johnson will not apologise after falsely accusing Labour in the House of Commons of voting against his EU trade deal, the prime minister’s press secretary has indicated.
Our politics edtior Andrew Woodcock reports:
A rattled Johnson has his ‘Kevin Keegan moment’
Our deputy politics editor Rob Merrick has this take on Labour’s handling of Johnson’s flat makeover:
What did Labour know about the makeover of Boris Johnson’s flat? A question posed after Alistair Darling revealed he was asked to be part of the proposed trust to oversee refurbishments – but declined.
Keir Starmer’s office first heard about the trust in June last year, its office says, when it received correspondence from No 10, but his spokesman said: “We didn’t engage.”
And, crucially, it says it was only informed of the intention to renovate the buildings overall, not about any plans for redecorating the flat.
Labour is also seizing on Mr Johnson’s – or rather his fiancée Carrie Symond’s – perceived attack on High Street favourite John Lewis, the decoration she apparently detested.
Sir Keir’s spokesman said he believes the Labour leader’s wedding list was with John Lewis, adding: “Unlike the prime minister, he doesn’t turn his nose up at John Lewis, thinking it’s too downmarket.”
The party is also gleeful about Mr Johnson visibly losing his rag at the despatch box, branding it “his Kevin Keegan moment” – after the football manager’s infamous 1996 TV meltdown.
UK to slash aid spending on polio and clean water projects
The UK is to slash spending on polio and water, sanitation and hygiene (Wash) projects in some of the world’s poorest countries as part of plans by Boris Johnson’s government to cut the foreign aid budget, despite the global health challenges posed by the pandemic.
My colleague Tom Batchelor has more details:
Your Boris Johnson questions answered by John Rentoul — live
Is Boris Johnson the most dishonourable prime minister in living memory, or a relatable character who has led the nation through exceptional challenges?
Our chief political commentator, John Rentoul, will be answering all your questions tomorrow.
To join the discussion and have your voice heard, simply register with The Independent free and leave your comments here. John will start responding at 4pm.