The Independent

Sleaze watchdog urged to investigate Boris Johnson’s luxury Caribbean New Year holiday

The Independent

A sleaze watchdog has been urged to investigate Boris Johnson’s luxury Caribbean New Year holiday, as it emerged he may have taken advantage of a timeshare-style arrangement.

Labour called for the parliamentary commissioner for standards to step in after the prime minister registered it a £15,000 gift from a Tory donor – only for the donor to deny stumping up any money.

David Ross, who co-founded the Carphone Warehouse chain, then sought to clarify the gift as “a benefit in kind”, because he had “facilitated accommodation” for Mr Johnson and Carrie Symonds, his girlfriend.

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A government source suggested the businessman had been due to occupy the villa on the paradise island of Mustique – but then agreed to make it available for their 10-day stay.

Until his declaration in the Commons register, it was assumed that Mr Johnson, who earned £275,000 a year for his newspaper columns, had paid for the holiday himself.

No 10 brushed off questions about why the prime minister had not simply reimbursed Mr Ross and avoided the controversy altogether.

Jon Trickett, the shadow Cabinet Office minister, said the public had a right to know whether the prime minister could “knowingly make a false entry into the register”.

“Transparency is crucial to ensuring the public have confidence that elected members of this House have not been unduly influenced by any donations or gifts that they may receive,” his letter to the commissioner said.

“For this reason, I request that you to investigate whether the prime minister has followed all transparency requirements when registering the donation.”

Shape Created with Sketch. Boris Johnson’s cabinet reshuffle: Who’s in and who’s out

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left Created with Sketch. right Created with Sketch.

Shape Created with Sketch. Boris Johnson’s cabinet reshuffle: Who’s in and who’s out

1/17 Out: Sajid Javid

Resigned as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Mr Javid’s departure comes just one month before a crucial budget, intended to chart the course for the new government – and makes him the shortest-serving chancellor for more than 50 years

Getty

2/17 In: Rishi Sunak

Promoted from Chief Secretary to the Treasury to Chancellor of the Exchequer after the dramatic resignation of Sajid Javid

Getty

3/17 Out: Esther McVey

Sacked as housing minister

AFP via Getty

4/17 Out: Andrea Leadsom

Sacked as business secretary

EPA

5/17 Changed role: Alok Sharma

Appointed business secretary (previously international development secretary). He has also been put in charge of the UK’s COP26 climate change summit

PA

6/17 Out: Attorney General Geoffrey Cox

Resigned as the government’s most senior law officer

AFP via Getty

7/17 In: Suella Braverman

Appointed Attorney General and she will attend cabinet

EPA

8/17 Out: Theresa Villiers

Sacked as environment secretary

PA

9/17 In: George Eustice

Appointed environment, food and rural affairs secretary. He was a farming and fisheries minister

Reuters

10/17 Changed role: Anne-Marie Trevelyan

Appointed international development secretary (previously parliamentary under-secretary for defence)

Getty

11/17 Out: Julian Smith

Sacked as Northern Ireland secretary

Reuters

12/17 In: Brandon Lewis

Appointed Secretary of Northern Ireland

Reuters

13/17 In: Stephen Barclay

Appointed chief secretary to the Treasury

PA

14/17 In: Oliver Dowden

Appointed culture secretary, succeeding Nicky Morgan

Getty

15/17 Out: Chris Skidmore

Sacked as eucation minister

Getty

16/17 Out: Nus Ghani

Sacked as transport minister

Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/CC BY 3.0

17/17 Out: George Freeman

Sacked as transport minister

Getty

1/17 Out: Sajid Javid

Resigned as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Mr Javid’s departure comes just one month before a crucial budget, intended to chart the course for the new government – and makes him the shortest-serving chancellor for more than 50 years

Getty

2/17 In: Rishi Sunak

Promoted from Chief Secretary to the Treasury to Chancellor of the Exchequer after the dramatic resignation of Sajid Javid

Getty

3/17 Out: Esther McVey

Sacked as housing minister

AFP via Getty

4/17 Out: Andrea Leadsom

Sacked as business secretary

EPA

5/17 Changed role: Alok Sharma

Appointed business secretary (previously international development secretary). He has also been put in charge of the UK’s COP26 climate change summit

PA

6/17 Out: Attorney General Geoffrey Cox

Resigned as the government’s most senior law officer

AFP via Getty

7/17 In: Suella Braverman

Appointed Attorney General and she will attend cabinet

EPA

8/17 Out: Theresa Villiers

Sacked as environment secretary

PA

9/17 In: George Eustice

Appointed environment, food and rural affairs secretary. He was a farming and fisheries minister

Reuters

10/17 Changed role: Anne-Marie Trevelyan

Appointed international development secretary (previously parliamentary under-secretary for defence)

Getty

11/17 Out: Julian Smith

Sacked as Northern Ireland secretary

Reuters

12/17 In: Brandon Lewis

Appointed Secretary of Northern Ireland

Reuters

13/17 In: Stephen Barclay

Appointed chief secretary to the Treasury

PA

14/17 In: Oliver Dowden

Appointed culture secretary, succeeding Nicky Morgan

Getty

15/17 Out: Chris Skidmore

Sacked as eucation minister

Getty

16/17 Out: Nus Ghani

Sacked as transport minister

Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/CC BY 3.0

17/17 Out: George Freeman

Sacked as transport minister

Getty

But Mr Johnson’s spokesman insisted: “The relevant transparency requirements have been met as set out in the register of financial interests. This is a benefit in kind from David Ross.

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“The Cabinet Office are aware of the declaration and are content that it is appropriate.”

A No 10 source argued Labour’s protest was “out of date” after the second statement from Mr Ross, who worked with Mr Johnson in his time as London mayor.

He was forced to quit as deputy chair of Carphone Warehouse, and from the City Hall role, after failing to disclose that he had used his shares in the business as security for a multi-million pound loan.

A former tax exile and friend of David Cameron, with a fortune estimated at £1bn, Mr Ross has donated hundreds of thousands of pounds to the Conservative party.

Mr Johnson’s holiday had already attracted criticism, breaking with the practice of his two Tory predecessors, Theresa May and Mr Cameron, who shunned luxury breaks for modest trips in the UK and Europe.

Labour accused him of “sunning himself, drinking vodka martinis” instead of returning home to deal with the Iran crisis that broke after Christmas.

Mark Sedwill cabinet secretary, was left to chair three emergency meetings following the assassination of Qasem Soleimani

Rob Merrick The Independent

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