Boris Johnson: It’s ‘unfair’ to say government was ‘unprepared’
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson reportedly used a private jet to fly from Stansted to Teeside – a distance of 312 miles – to campaign in the historic by-election. The journey on April 1 was paid for by the taxpayer and undertaken to promote his minimum wage policy, which falls under the remit of Government business. However, while on the trip, Mr Johnson also travelled to Hartlepool to join now MP Jill Mortimer to campaign for the surprising win.
He joined Ms Mortimer on a visit to Hart Biologicals before joining local party members going door-to-door in the constituency – something that isn’t classified as Government business.
The Electoral Commission dictates that spending on transport costs at by-elections must be declared.
The ministerial code states: “Where a visit is a mix of political and official engagements, it is important that the department and the party each meet a proper proportion of the actual cost.”
The Tories admitted on Monday evening the cost of the flight was met by the taxpayer but said Mr Johnson had only used the jet to carry out official Government business.
Labour has called for the Prime Minister to be investigated – and went as far as accusing him of breaking the law.
Deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “False election returns or the non-declaration of election spending is a criminal offence.”
Candidates are only permitted by law to spend £100,000 on by-election campaigns.
According to Business Insider, the Conservatives’ spending return for the campaign was £87,000. Flights were not declared in this.
A No 10 spokesman said: “All relevant costs have been correctly accounted for and appropriately proportioned.
“At all times government rules and electoral requirements were followed.”
This isn’t the first time members of the current cabinet have been accused of not sticking to the ministerial code.
Mr Johnson has already been accused of breaking ministerial code after he went on holiday to Mustique and stayed in a villa paid for by David Ross, a wealthy Tory donor – he was later cleared of the charge.
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The Prime Minister was also investigated by the Electoral Commission in a long saga over the refurbishment of his flat in Downing Street.
No 10 has always maintained that an estimated £58,000 refurbishment of the flat on Downing Street that Mr Johnson shares with his wife, Carrie, was paid for personally by Mr Johnson.
Priti Patel was previously found guilty of breaking ministerial code in an inquiry into whether she bullied civil servants – but Mr Johnson refused to move her from the Home Office.
The incident led to Mr Johnson’s advisor on ministerial code to resign.
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