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Johnson faces more questions over personal spending

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (File photo)

More allegations were leveled against British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday over his expenditure on the refurbishment of his apartment and on childcare for his young son.

This comes after it has been revealed recently that he and his fiancée, Carrie Symonds, spent sumptuously to redecorate their residence with a designer feted by royalty.

Johnson has repeatedly denied the allegation, saying he himself paid for the refurbishment of his Downing Street apartment. However, Britain's Electoral Commission, which began an investigation on Wednesday into the matter, says there were grounds to suspect an offence may have been committed.

"We are now satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to suspect that an offence or offences may have occurred," the Electoral Commission said of the financing of the apartment above Number 11 Downing Street, where Johnson resides with his fiancée and 11-month old son.

"We will therefore continue this work as a formal investigation to establish whether this is the case," the commission said.

Johnson's opponents say he might have broken the law by allowing party donors to secretly contribute tens of thousands of pounds to a luxury renovation of his living quarters.

According to a new report by The Sunday Times, the total cost of the work was about 200,000 pounds ($276,000) and that one invoice was settled by a Conservative Party donor directly - a benefit-in-kind that tax authorities would need to be informed of.

The newspaper also reported that the premier asked a Conservative Party donor to pay for a nanny for his young son, Wilfred.

So far, Johnson's Downing Street office has not addressed the reported refurbishment costs, but issued a statement, saying, "The Prime Minister has covered the costs of all childcare."

Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab did not answer directly who initially paid for the work, adding he also had "no idea" if a donor had been asked to pay for the prime minister’s childcare.

"The last issue you asked about is an example of tittle tattle," Raab told Sky TV. He said Johnson had been "crystal clear" about the expenditure on the refurbishment work.

Johnson is also grappling with other allegations about the management of his core team at the centre of the government that opponents argue indicate he is not fit for office.

Prior to local elections on Thursday across most of Britain, some opinion surveys show the premier’s ratings have fallen. His party also faces a parliamentary by-election in Hartlepool, northern England, which has been controlled by the opposition Labour Party for decades.


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