Senior Tory says Boris Johnson should quit if rules broken

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Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds.
Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds.
  • The leader of the Conservatives in Scotland has said that the UK PM should resign if he broke government rules over the funding of the revamp of his flat.
  • UK Foreign Secretary said that Boris Johnson had been "crystal clear" about the funding.
  • It appears that Johnson and his fiancee reportedly ran up a bill approaching 200,000 pounds.

A senior British Conservative broke ranks on Sunday to call for Prime Minister Boris Johnson's resignation, if it is proven that he broke government rules over the funding of a lavish revamp of his Downing Street flat.

The call from Douglas Ross, leader of the Conservatives in Scotland, came as new opinion polls showed the ruling party's lead over the main opposition Labour party has been slashed, ahead of British local elections on Thursday.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the Conservative party took seriously an investigation by the powerful Electoral Commission into the apartment funding, but dismissed the allegations as "tittle-tattle".

He told Sky News television that Johnson had been "crystal clear" about paying for the redecoration himself, although Labour and others point out that he has failed to answer if the bill was secretly footed by a party donor initially.

READ | Boris Johnson faces formal probe over funding of Downing Street apartment renovation

Raab also said he had "no idea" if the prime minister had sought help from Conservative donors to pay for his childcare and personal trainer, as reported by the Sunday Times.

The newspaper quoted one donor as saying: "I don't mind paying for leaflets, but I resent being asked to pay to literally wipe the prime minister's baby's bottom."

The Electoral Commission announced Wednesday it was opening an investigation into the redecoration, which could potentially involve the police, after Johnson and his fiance reportedly ran up a bill approaching 200,000 pounds.

Ross was asked on BBC television if the prime minister should quit if found to be in breach of the ministerial code.

"Of course," replied the Scottish Conservative, who is trying to shore up the party's support in Scotland against pro-independence parties in Thursday's elections.

A 'farrago of nonsense'?

"I think people expect the highest standards of those in the highest office of the land, that's why I think people are looking at the investigations that are currently ongoing and waiting for the answers," Ross said.

The Electoral Commission is looking at whether any party donations were legally declared, and Downing Street has launched two probes itself into the refurbishment.

Johnson on Thursday dismissed the row as a "farrago of nonsense", but the new opinion polls suggested Labour's repeated attacks on government "sleaze" are starting to pay off.

A Focaldata survey for the Sunday Times said the Conservatives' previous strong lead had been wiped out and their UK-wide support now stood at 40 percent, just a point above Labour.

Another poll by Opinium said the Conservative lead had fallen from 11 points to five, with Johnson's party registering 42 percent to Labour's 37 percent.

Johnson tried to regain the electoral initiative with a comment piece in the Mail on Sunday newspaper, calling for tougher action on drug criminals and on a wave of thefts of dogs.

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