Johnson feels heat over sunshine break

Agence France-Presse . London | Published: 23:51, Feb 14,2020


Boris Johnson

British prime minister Boris Johnson came under pressure Thursday to reveal who bankrolled his luxury holiday in the Caribbean, as the opposition called for a parliamentary investigation.

The Conservative Party leader and his girlfriend Carrie Symonds went on a £15,000 ($19,500, 17,900-euro) trip to the privately-owned island of Mustique in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines over the New Year.

But a flurry of statements on Thursday failed to convince the Labour Party as to who had really paid for it.

MPs have to register their financial interests with the parliamentary commissioner for standards.

In the register, Johnson wrote that he had accepted ‘accommodation for a private holiday for my partner and me, value £15,000’, as a benefit in kind.

Johnson claimed their stay was provided by David Ross, a donor to the Conservatives who co-founded the Carphone Warehouse mobile phone retail chain.

The holiday lasted from December 26 to January 5, according to the entry.

But a spokesman for Ross told the Daily Mail newspaper that while he helped put Johnson in touch with companies providing accommodation he did not front up money or the villa.

‘Boris Johnson did not stay in David Ross’s house,’ the spokesman was quoted as saying.

‘Boris wanted some help to find somewhere in Mustique, David called the company who run all the villas and somebody had dropped out.

‘So Boris got the use of a villa that was worth £15,000, but David Ross did not pay any monies whatsoever for this.’

The spokesman later said, ‘Mr Ross facilitated accommodation for Mr Johnson on Mustique valued at £15,000.

‘Therefore this is a benefit in kind from Mr Ross to Mr Johnson, and Mr Johnson’s declaration to the House of Commons is correct.’

The prime minister’s official spokesman said, ‘All relevant transparency requirements have been met, as set out in the register of members’ financial interests.

‘This was a benefit in kind from David Ross, a friend and former colleague.

‘A spokesperson for David Ross has clarified this morning that the PM’s declaration is correct and that the accommodation was facilitated as a donation in kind.’

The main opposition Labour Party wrote to the parliamentary commissioner for standards demanding an investigation, saying questions had been left unanswered.

In a letter to the standards watchdog, Jon Trickett, one of the party’s frontbench spokesmen, said, ‘The code of conduct requires members to provide the name of the person or organisation that actually funded a donation.’

He added that ‘transparency is crucial to ensuring that the public have confidence that elected members of this house have not been unduly influenced by any donations or gifts that they may receive’.

Mustique has been a favourite getaway for the rich and famous for decades, notably the British royal family.

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