NEWS
17/09/2021 11:52 BST | Updated 17/09/2021 12:03 BST

Johnson Caught Between Truss And Raab As They Fight Over Lavish House

The prime minister is torn between his deputy and the foreign secretary in a debate over who gets the keys to Chevening House.

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Liz Truss, Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab

Boris Johnson is already caught between Dominic Raab and Liz Truss just days after his cabinet reshuffle as both have laid claim to a lavish government property.

Raab was Johnson’s right-hand man and de facto deputy prime minister when he was the foreign secretary.

On Wednesday, Raab was demoted after his mishandling of the Afghanistan crisis. He became justice secretary and lord chancellor, but allegedly refused to take on the role unless the official title of deputy prime minister was attached.

Johnson agreed – the prime minister then put former trade secretary Truss in Raab’s old job following her success on securing post-Brexit trade agreements.

A disgruntled Raab and a newly-appointed Truss are now caught up in a power struggle on Downing Street, according to The Times’ Steven Swinford.

On Friday he tweeted: “Both Dom Raab and Liz Truss have staked a claim to Chevening, a 115-room grace and favour residence in Kent.

“Chevening traditionally goes to foreign secretary, but Nick Clegg shared it with William Hague when he was DPM [deputy prime minister].

“Boris Johnson will have to decide who gets it.”

Chevening is a “grace and favour” home used by senior government ministers.

With 115 rooms, it is surrounded by a 3,500 acre estate in Kent complete with a large lake, a tennis court, a maze, and woodlands, making it a real prize even though it’s primarily used for entertaining foreign dignitaries. 

NIKLAS HALLE'N via Getty Images
Raab hosting South Korea's foreign minister at Chevening in May 2021

Patrick Maguire from The Times’ Red Box also commented on the occasion, writing: “Good to see Dom starting as he means to go on in that challenging new brief.

“It’ll now fall to the PM to decide which of the two will be handed the keys – if not both.”

Asked who was going to get Chevening, the prime minister’s official spokesman said: “You’ll appreciate the reshuffle is still ongoing. There’s a long process in place for nominating occupants of Chevening House and we’ll update in due course.”

Pressed on the issue, the spokesman added: “I’m not going to get into discussions. We will conclude the reshuffle and then we will get into the longstanding processes, like residences.”

He said there was not “one single post” that was entitled to use the house.

In 2016 when Johnson was foreign secretary, he had to share the 17th century building with then Brexit secretary David Davis and then trade secretary Liam Fox.