LONDON (AFP) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced growing scrutiny on Sunday (April 25) following explosive accusations by his former chief aide Dominic Cummings earlier this week that he lacks competence and integrity.
Mr Cummings, who stepped down as his top adviser in December, used a personal blog on Friday to allege Johnson tried to solicit potentially illegal donations to renovate his publicly-funded Downing Street flat.
He also claimed the UK leader suggested blocking an internal inquiry into government leaks, because the culprit identified was a close friend of Johnson’s fiancee Carrie Symonds.
Mr Johnson’s office has dismissed the damning accusations, insisting all “reportable donations” are transparently disclosed and that the prime minister “has never interfered in a government leak inquiry”.
International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said Sunday the claims were “a massive distraction” and that she had been assured all rules have been fully complied with.
“This is tittle tattle that’s being promoted and I don’t think it addresses the key issues the people of Britain care about,” she told Sky News.
But the charges, which follow weeks of stories about allegedly inappropriate lobbying and sleaze involving Johnson, his ministers and officials, have dominated news headlines and front pages this weekend.
Some Conservatives have joined the condemnation of Mr Johnson, with former attorney general Dominic Grieve, a long-time critic, branding him “a vacuum of integrity”.
They have also prompted the main opposition Labour Party to call for a “root and branch” independent inquiry into the use of taxpayers’ money by Mr Johnson’s government.
“Whether I back Dominic Cummings’ view or Boris Johnson’s view, what we need is a proper independent inquiry where it isn’t about two boys fighting and is about taxpayers in our country,” Labour lawmaker Jess Phillips told Sky News.
She confirmed the party will pose an urgent question in parliament next week about the allegations surrounding Johnson’s flat refurbishment.
‘Foolish, possibly illegal’
Mr Cummings, the controversial brains behind the 2016 campaign for Britain to leave the European Union, was appointed chief adviser by Mr Johnson when