Labour seeking urgent question over Cummings allegations – report

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Labour is reportedly calling for a senior minister to front parliament this week to face questions over the growing war of words between Boris Johnson and his former adviser Dominic Cummings.

The Observer and the BBC report the party is hoping to be granted an urgent question which would summon the Government to the Commons to account for allegations made by Mr Cummings.

In an incendiary blog post, Mr Cummings accused his former boss of plotting an “unethical, foolish, possibly illegal” plan to get Tory donors to secretly fund a lavish refurbishment of his Downing Street flat.

The Government has previously said Mr Johnson paid for the revamp – reported to have cost £200,000 – out of his own pocket.

Shadow communities secretary Steve Reed said the Government must publish any correspondence relating to payments or donations around the refurbishment.

“We need to know the full amount that was spent and we need to know who paid for the work in the first place, who the Prime Minister now proposes to reimburse,” the Labour MP told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

The claim by Mr Cummings was part of a wide-ranging attack after No 10 sources briefed newspapers the former aide was the source of a number of damaging leaks – including text messages exchanged between the Prime Minister and the entrepreneur Sir James Dyson over tax matters.

In his blog post, Mr Cummings also accused Mr Johnson of seeking to stop an inquiry into the leak of plans for a second coronavirus lockdown after he was warned it could implicate Henry Newman, a close friend of his fiancee.

“It is sad to see the PM and his office fall so far below the standards of competence and integrity the country deserves,” he said.

On Friday, the Prime Minister denied trying to block the leak inquiry, saying the public could not “give a monkey’s” about such matters.

But a new Opinium survey released on Saturday revealed almost 37% of Britons described Mr Johnson as mostly or completely corrupt, compared with just 16% for Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.

However, the Electoral Commission said that a month after it first revealed that it had contacted the Tory Party over a reported £58,000 donation in relation to the flat, those talks were still continuing.

According to a leaked email obtained by the Daily Mail, the Tory peer Lord Brownlow wrote to the party’s head of fundraising last October informing him that he was making a donation.

He said that it included “£58,000 to cover the payments the party has already made on behalf of the soon to be formed ‘Downing Street Trust’ – of which I have been made chairman, as you know,” he wrote.

To date, no such trust has been formed.

A commission spokeswoman said: “Discussions with the Conservative Party continue as we work to establish whether any sums relating to the works at 11 Downing Street fall within the regime regulated by the commission, and therefore need to be reported and subsequently published.

“The party is working with us on this.”

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