PM reportedly said he could not afford Downing Street flat refurbishment

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his girlfriend Carrie Symonds. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA.

Prime minister Boris Johnson with fiancée Carrie Symonds outside No 10 - Credit: PA

Boris Johnson reportedly claimed he could not afford the £200,000 cost of revamping his Downing Street flat, following suggestions he wanted donors to “secretly pay” for the work.

It is the latest allegation about the refurbishment of Number 11, and comes after Downing Street attempted to draw a line under the issue.

A No 10 spokeswoman said renovation costs of Johnson’s living quarters, beyond those provided for by the £30,000 annual allowance, had been “met by the prime minister personally”, adding: “Conservative Party funds are not being used for this.”

But the Daily Mail alleged Johnson told colleagues the bill was escalating out of control, while his chief of staff Dan Rosenfield felt the refurbishment was a “crazy arrangement” and a “mess”.

The newspaper said when aides asked the prime minister how much the upgrades were costing, Johnson replied: “Tens and tens of thousands – I can’t afford it.”

The Conservative Party leader has faced a flurry of questions regarding how the revamp was paid for following a fallout with former aide Dominic Cummings.

The former de facto chief of staff, who quit his post last year, said Johnson wanted donors to “secretly pay” for the work in an “unethical, foolish, possibly illegal” move.

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When pressed by reporters, No 10 declined to deny suggestions that the prime minister received a loan from the Conservative Party to cover the initial costs, before repaying the party.

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said Tory Party co-chair Amanda Milling needed to “come clean” about whether party funds had been used.

“No more cover-ups, no more prevarication,” said Rayner.

“Tell us who paid for the prime minister’s flat, and release all correspondence on this matter between the Conservative Party, Downing Street and the Cabinet Office.”

Prime ministers are allocated a budget of up to £30,000 per year to renovate their Downing Street residency, but newspaper reports have suggested Johnson has spent up to £200,000 on the changes.

Cabinet secretary Simon Case, head of the Civil Service, has been tasked with reviewing the refurbishment of the flat in No 11, while the Electoral Commission is also looking into the affair.

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