Conservative party workers are furious after discovering headquarters diverted £60,000 to pay for the prime minister’s flat refurbishment whilst telling staff there was no money for a pay rise.
The pay of officials at the Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ) has been frozen since Boris Johnson became party leader in 2019.
Finance director Aimee Henderson, told party workers in February that even an inflation linked pay rise was not possible this year, the Telegraph reports, as the party was in no position to “splash the cash”.
Henderson’s declaration was made at around the same time as a £58,000 payment was made by party HQ, towards the cost of the refurbishment of the flat at No 11 Downing Street. It is believed to have cost around £200,000.
Flat refurb subject to three inquiries
The prime minister angrily insisted that he paid for the decoration himself during last week’s PMQs but the revelations over the refurb have angered disgruntled staff, with one quoted as saying: “People in HQ and in the field were furious that, after we’d all worked so hard on the general election, we couldn’t even have a pay rise in line with inflation.
“The finance director said it was no time to ‘splash the cash’, which went down very badly.”
The Telegraph states there is “no suggestion” Henderson “was aware that money from CCHQ was being used to contribute towards the flat” – whose redecoration is now the subject of three separate inquiries.
A statement by the Electoral Commission announcing its investigation of the matter said there are “reasonable grounds to suspect that an offence or offences may have occurred”.
The PM ‘Major Sleaze’ is at heart of it, says Starmer
Keir Starmer has made the issue central to Labour’s campaign for the multitude of elections around Britain on Thursday (May 6).
The Labour leader posted a 30 second video on Twitter excoriating Johnson for his role in “dodgy contracts, jobs for their mates, and cash for access”.
“And who’s at the heart of it?”, asks Starmer. “The prime minister. Major Sleaze, sitting there.”
In an open letter, Starmer writes: “I get angry when I hear how the friend and neighbour of a Tory minister gets £30m of taxpayers’ money, while towns and communities across the country see their local services cut. Or when I see the British people’s money wasted on government contracts that don’t deliver.
“If I were prime minister, I would stop the abuse of taxpayers’ money, stop the wasteful approach to outsourcing contracts and clean up our politics. When I was director of public prosecutions, I was not afraid to prosecute MPs who had broken the rules over MPs’ expenses.
“As prime minister, I would not be afraid to overhaul a system that still allows power to be abused.”