POLITICS
04/05/2021 12:52 BST | Updated 04/05/2021 14:18 BST

No.10 Refuses To Deny Boris Johnson Asked Donors To Pay Childcare Costs

The prime minister has also sidestepped questions about the claims.

Downing Street has refused to deny claims that Boris Johnson approached Tory donors to help pay the costs of childcare for his son.

The prime minister’s official spokesperson would only say that Johnson “covered the cost” of childcare for Wilfred, his son with fiancee Carrie Symonds.

But they would not say whether the PM had approached Tory donors about helping with the costs, or whether he had been given money by donors to then cover the costs.

On Monday, Johnson refused to deny the claims while on a visit in Hartlepool, insisting that “all this kind of stuff is, in my view, exclusively for the interest of the Westminster bubble”.

But it comes with the Tories embroiled in what Labour is calling “sleaze” allegations, and amid concerns about the potential undue influence of donors on Johnson.

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner questioned what any donors “expect[ed] in return for their generosity, and what were they promised” and urged the Tories to publish all correspondence “relating to all attempts to get Tory donors to fund the prime minister’s lifestyle”.

Last week, the Electoral Commission announced an investigation into who paid for the refurbishment of Johnson and Symonds’ Downing Street flat, amid claims that Tory donors were asked to help with the bill which reportedly ran into tens of thousands of pounds.

There are also several other probes in government and in parliament into lobbying and donations.

Asked on Monday to deny that Tory donors were approached to pay for Johnson’s childcare, the PM’s spokesperson said: “The prime minister has covered all the costs of all childcare and I’ve got nothing more to add to that.”

Asked if Johnson was paying out of his own pocket or if he has been given money from donors to cover the cost of childcare, the spokesperson said: “I’ve got nothing more to add. The prime minister has covered all costs.”

Pressed on whether the PM approached donors to pay for childcare, but that the proposal did not end up going ahead, the spokesperson replied: “What I’m saying is the prime minister has covered all costs of childcare, I’m not adding anymore to that.”

The government has no imminent plans to boost the childcare support on offer for the wider public, the spokesperson suggested.

“The government’s policies on providing childcare to parents are well established and in fact well taken up,” they said.

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “We are seeing what looks like another cover up from the prime minister, who is trying to hide his attempts to fund his lifestyle through secret payments from wealthy Tory donors.

“Boris Johnson forcing his MPs to vote against free school meals and making stealth cuts to schools at the same time as asking Tory donors to pay for his own childcare is yet more evidence that it’s one rule for him and his mates another for everyone else.

“What did these donors expect in return for their generosity, and what were they promised?

“With an investigation already underway into potentially illegal activity, the prime minister and Conservative Party should stop taking the British people for fools and immediately publish all correspondence relating to all attempts to get Tory donors to fund the prime minister’s lifestyle.”