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Boris Johnson Flat Makeover Furore May Be 'a Distraction" Ahead of UK Local Elections, Tories Fear

© AFP 2022 / JUSTIN TALLISBritain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street in central London on April 28, 2021, to take part in the weekly session of Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) at the House of Commons
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street in central London on April 28, 2021, to take part in the weekly session of Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) at the House of Commons - Sputnik International, 1920, 04.05.2021
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On Monday, Boris Johnson claimed he had not broken any laws related to the refurbishment of his Downing Street flat, insisting that he had "personally" paid for the work.

The Times has cited unnamed Cabinet ministers as saying that the scandal over the lavish refurbishment of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's private flat on Downing Street may become a "distraction" in the run-up to the 6 May elections in the country.

One of the cited ministers argued that "for people who don't like Boris it accentuates that", adding, "that's got to be a worry ahead of the local elections".

The warning comes amid an Electoral Commission probe into whether any donations or loans pertaining to the renovation of Johnson's Number 11 flat were improperly declared.

© REUTERS / TOBY MELVILLEBritain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds a news conference at 10 Downing Street, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in London, Britain, April 20, 2021.
Boris Johnson Flat Makeover Furore May Be 'a Distraction Ahead of UK Local Elections, Tories Fear - Sputnik International, 1920, 04.05.2021
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds a news conference at 10 Downing Street, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in London, Britain, April 20, 2021.

On Monday, the UK prime minister told reporters that "all this kind of stuff is absolutely not relevant to" the election campaign.

"And we're focused on improving our NHS [National Health Service], on making our streets safer, and above all, in rolling out the vaccine campaign and going down the road map in a cautious but we hope irreversible way and delivering change. I know that people want to focus on trivia, but I'm focusing on the issues that matter", he stressed when campaigning in Hartlepool.

Johnson claimed he had "personally" paid for the flat's refurbishment, but declined to clarify whether he received an initial loan from the Conservative Party.

The prime minister earlier denied breaking any rules over the matter, insisting he "conformed in full with the code of conduct and ministerial code".

© AP Photo / Matt DunhamFILE -In this Friday, Dec. 13, 2019 file photo, Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his partner Carrie Symonds wave from the steps of number 10 Downing Street in London.
Boris Johnson Flat Makeover Furore May Be 'a Distraction Ahead of UK Local Elections, Tories Fear - Sputnik International, 1920, 04.05.2021
FILE -In this Friday, Dec. 13, 2019 file photo, Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his partner Carrie Symonds wave from the steps of number 10 Downing Street in London.

The claims were preceded by Johnson pledging that he would comply with any Electoral Commission decision related to its investigation into the refurbishment of the PM's Downing Street flat. The commission previously noted that there were "reasonable grounds" to suspect that an offence or offences may have occurred following an assessment of the funding of work at 11 Downing Street.

The probe follows UK media reports asserting that Conservative Party coffers contributed to covering the reported £200,000 ($277,400) cost of refurbishing the flat over 11 Downing Street, where Johnson resides with his fiancée Carrie Symonds and their son Wilfred.

The Daily Mail reported in March that Johnson bemoaned the cost of the renovation by Symonds as "totally out of control", revealing to one minister that he was especially alarmed by the cost of the "gold wall coverings" chosen by his fiancée.

News conference about the ongoing situation with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in London - Sputnik International, 1920, 28.04.2021
Flat Refurb: Boris Johnson's Outburst During Parliament Grilling Leaves Netizens in Stitches
On 6 May, voters will head to the polls across England, Scotland, and Wales to cast ballots in local, national, mayoral, as well as Police and Crime Commissioner elections.

A new poll has, meanwhile, shown the Conservative Party's lead over Labour has drastically plummeted from 11 to just 5 points. The survey, conducted by the pollster Opinium for The Observer, also found that Johnson's net favourability currently stands at -6 versus Labour leader Keir Starmer's +8.

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