Questions remain over the money behind Boris Johnson’s luxury Caribbean holiday despite frantic bids to explain the freebie.
The Prime Minister told Commons authorities he’d accepted a £15,000 gift from Carphone Warehouse boss David Ross for the New Year getaway on the exclusive island of Mystique.
But there was widespread confusion last night when Mr Ross denied he had paid for Mr Johnson’s accommodation.
In a bid to clarify the row, Mr Ross’s spokesman issued a statement this afternoon.
He said: “Following media reports I would like to provide further explanation of the benefit in kind Mr Ross provided to Mr Johnson.
“Mr Ross facilitated accommodation for Mr Johnson on Mustique valued at £15,000.
“Therefore this is a benefit in kind from Mr Ross to Mr Johnson, and Mr Johnson’s declaration to the Commons is correct.”
The statement, however, appears to raise more questions than it answers.
MPs are required to register the full market value of any gifts or benefits in kind, and are not allowed to enter a ‘reduced’ rate into the register.
And MPs are required to register whoever donated or paid for the gift or benefit as the donor on the register of interests.
This is an important point of transparency, allowing the public to know who is giving gifts to politicians.
If the accommodation was provided, as Mr Ross said last night, at no cost to Mr Ross, it should not have been registered to him, but to the person who either paid for it or allowed the PM to have it for free.
Mr Ross says he merely facilitated the accommodation.
Labour called for the PM to provide further answers over the trip or else face a parliamentary inquiry.
” Boris Johnson must come clean about who has paid for his luxury trip,” said shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett.
“If he fails to do so, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards should step in and make him fess up.”
Mr Johnson faced criticism at the time for failing to cut his festive break short when international tensions rose after the US killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani on January 3.
Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry accused the Prime Minister of “sunning himself” while leaving Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill to chair three emergency Cobra meetings about the assassination.
In a declaration published on Wednesday, Mr Johnson announced in the MPs’ register that he had accepted “accommodation for a private holiday for my partner and me, value £15,000”.
The private holiday lasted from December 26 to January 5, according to the entry in the register.
The jaunt provided Mr Johnson with a break after the election campaign which produced a Conservative landslide for the first time since the 1980s.
A Number 10 spokeswoman said: “All transparency requirements have been followed, as set out in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.”