Former deputy leader of Tories says people are getting 'worked up over nothing'

The view from Downing Street

The view from Downing Street - Credit: PA

The former deputy leader of the Conservative Party has claimed people are getting “worked up over nothing” over the refurbishment of Boris Johnson’s Downing Street flat.

Talking to Times Radio, Lord Peter Lilley said: “We are unique in that people get worked up where nothing bad has happened.

“In Russia, public money was used to build Putin’s Palace – public money on private property.”

He continued: “Here it is private money – Boris’s, ultimately – on public property, Number 10, And people are upset about it. I just think people have got things upside down.

“The Labour Party is naturally trying to exploit this, but my point is nothing bad has happened, no public money has been siphoned off to private benefit.”



He added that any loan was “clearly temporary because the prime minister has ended up paying out of his pocket”.

The peer said parliament should also be “very cautious” about the introduction of an independent investigator on ministerial standards.

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“It’s just become an excuse for presumptions of guilt – that a member of one party will go around making accusations against another party.”

He continued: “We must be careful about setting up people who have got power, sovereign power ultimately, to damage who governs us – to decide who governs us, who’s elected or who’s a minister.

“Ultimately, we elect a minister, we elect employees, and MPs choose prime ministers, and prime ministers choose and work for them.

“We need some sort of system to make sure that things can be investigated if there is public concern, and that’s what we have now – appointment of someone who seems to have a very high reputation for integrity.”

Asked if he is concerned that the PM will still be the “ultimate arbiter” on whether the ministerial code has been broken, Lord Lilley said: “There’s always going to be someone at the top of the pinnacle.

“Ultimately, they’ve got to be accountable to the electorate, and Boris is accountable to the electorate – Lord Geidt is not.”

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