Boris Johnson, his fiancée Carrie Symonds and their son Wilfred Lawrie Nicholas do not seem to be completely comfortable in 11 Downing Street, right next to the government seat in “Number 10”. The couple would like to furnish the four-bedroom apartment more to their own taste and get rid of the “John Lewis nightmare” that their predecessors left behind, quotes the British “Tatler” Symonds.
John Lewis is a popular mid-range UK store that is likely to be popular with many of the voters who enabled Johnson to move into Downing Street.
The problem with this is – apart from the fact that Symond’s statement is quite snobbish – that its taste is probably much more exclusive than the budget for the redesign allows it. The Premier has 30,000 pounds a year at his disposal to design the rooms in such a way that he, his family and high-ranking guests feel comfortable there.
Since it is a gray area between work and private purposes, Johnson could supposedly finance the new interior himself. His American counterparts Barack Obama and Donald Trump are said to have invested $ 1.5 million and $ 1.75 million in remodeling there when they moved into the White House. Johnson does not seem to be ready to do this – supposedly because of his obligations from several divorces and to at least six children.
A fundraising campaign is supposed to remedy the situation – with the official purpose of preserving the buildings in Downing Street 10 and 11 for “reasons of cultural and historical protection”. At least here, London would like to orient itself towards Washington, where a find and individual donations allow the moving presidents and their families to spend around 100,000 dollars on remodeling, furniture and decoration.
British experts are skeptical, however, as to whether gifts of money in favor of the premier’s facility are booked as donations and the recipients can claim corresponding tax advantages. To be considered a “charity”, a needy group would have to benefit from the funds raised. “I’m really not sure whether the Prime Minister and his fiancée qualify,” the British Guardian quotes the former chairman of the “Committee on Standards in Public Life,” which advises the government on ethical issues.
Alternatively, the results would have to be available to the public, for example, which is impossible on Downing Street for safety reasons alone. In addition, a fundraising campaign in favor of a public servant would cause other problems – and, for example, open back doors to his unauthorized favor. In any case, he would be “beside himself” if the fundraising campaign were approved, according to the ethical standards expert.
Who would donate for the new furniture anyway?
According to British media, despite these concerns, the charity plans are already being discussed in upper administrative circles. The “Charity Committee” has not yet signed it, however, and Johnson’s spokeswoman Allegra Stratton referred to it as mere “speculation”.
There already seems to be at least one willing donor. The Guardian reported that taxi operator John Griffin had already expressed himself benevolently. Griffin is a major donor to Johnson’s Conservatives, to whom he has historically transferred over £ 4 million. He also defended a possible facility fundraiser, according to the newspaper. The entrepreneur referred to the government’s success in the pandemic as the reason.
»Boris Johnson did very well during the Covid-19 crisis. The public is happy with his performance and I am ready to support him, ”said Griffin. He would give Johnson “a few pounds” or “at least buy a ticket.”
If they actually want to put the charity plans into practice, Johnson and Symonds could take another look at Washington. It was there that the first lady at the time, Jackie Kennedy, founded the cult of a particularly stylish interior for the White House. It even received an Emmy in 1962 after 56 million Americans watched a CBS News film tour of the redesigned seat of government.
At the time, however, the USA was not in a crisis comparable to the situation in Great Britain as a result of Brexit and the corona pandemic. At a time when many Britons are worried financially, the Premier’s furnishing upgrade may not go down as well as it did with the Kennedys.