Boris Johnson ‘ignored’ official letters telling him to leave his £20million taxpayer-funded Government apartment for three weeks after he resigned as Foreign Secretary
- Boris Johnson remained in Government apartment three weeks after resigning
- Johnson ignored a string of official demands to leave the £20million apartment
- The foreign secretary’s official residence, One Carlton Gardens, is one of the most glamorous buildings on the government estate
Earlier, Mr Johnson had angered officials by summoning a ‘vanity photographer’ to take a picture of him sitting at a desk in his residence as he signed his explosive resignation letter to Theresa May [File photo]
Boris Johnson ignored a string of official demands to leave his £20million Government apartment, documents have revealed.
The former foreign secretary remained rent-free in his grace-and-favour flat a stone’s throw from Buckingham Palace for three weeks after storming out of the Cabinet in July in a row over Brexit.
At the time, officials played down his reluctance to budge, claiming it was normal for ministers to be given time to rearrange their affairs.
The foreign secretary’s official residence, One Carlton Gardens, is one of the most glamorous buildings on the government estate.
The Grade 1 listed 19th century building was designed by Regency architect John Nash, who was also responsible for Buckingham Palace.
The Foreign Office pays almost £500,000 a year to rent the building, which includes several reception rooms, from the Crown Estate.
An ally of Mr Johnson last night said it was ‘completely standard practice’ for a departing minister to be given a few weeks to leave an official residence.
It is understood that the incoming foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt had told his predecessor to ‘take as long as you like’.
Labour was accusing him of ‘squatting’ and demanding that he forfeit the rent he was receiving from his £2.3million home in Islington while living rent-free in Carlton Gardens, above
But documents seen by the Daily Mail reveal a growing frustration among Foreign Office and Cabinet Office officials at Mr Johnson’s refusal to budge. At the time Mr Johnson had separated from his second wife Marina Wheeler.
They announced in September they were to divorce after 25 years of marriage. It was reported that Mr Johnson, 54, had been having an affair with former Tory aide Carrie Symonds, 30.
The official documents, released under the Freedom of Information Act, set out a series of text messages sent to Mr Johnson by Sir Simon McDonald, the permanent secretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
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The first, sent on Monday, July 9, hours after Mr Johnson resigned, informed him that he no longer had use of his ministerial car, and said the Cabinet Office wanted him to leave his official residence within 48 hours. Officials expected any ‘packing up period’ to be ‘v.short, ie if not tomorrow then Wednesday’.
Mr Johnson’s replies are not recorded, but he appears to have asked for more time, because that evening Sir Simon says he wants to be ‘humane’ about the issue. He asks Mr Johnson to provide the following day a timetable for his departure and says it is ‘essential’ he stops using his official residence for holding meetings and arranging media interviews.
Earlier, Mr Johnson had angered officials by summoning a ‘vanity photographer’ to take a picture of him sitting at a desk in his residence as he signed his explosive resignation letter to Theresa May.
Four days later, Sir Simon wrote again to complain he still had not received a timetable for his departure: ‘Time is passing and I have still not seen a plan. So I’d be grateful for an update, please.’ Sir Simon reminded Mr Johnson that he had yet to surrender his diplomatic passport, government-issue laptop, iPads and phone.
Six days later, Sir Simon wrote again to complain he had still given a departure date: ‘Can you tell me today, please, when you will be finally and completely out?’
An ally of Mr Johnson last night said it was ‘completely standard practice’ for a departing minister to be given a few weeks to leave an official residence [File photo]
By this point, Mr Johnson’s continued presence was becoming a major embarrassment to the Government.
Labour was accusing him of ‘squatting’ and demanding that he forfeit the rent he was receiving from his £2.3million home in Islington while living rent-free in Carlton Gardens.
There was anger that he was being allowed to stay despite apparently laying the ground for a future leadership challenge.
In a final message on July 19, Sir Simon said officials were ‘under great pressure to speed things up’.
He asked Mr Johnson to be out by July 25 and urged him to keep a ‘very low profile’ while he remained in the official residence he was no longer entitled to.
Mr Johnson finally began moving out on July 30 – three weeks after he quit.
An ally of Mr Johnson said the MP had an informal understanding with Sir Simon that he should leave by the end of July. There was ‘no additional cost to the taxpayer’ as Mr Johnson paid the day-to-day bills at the official residence, the ally said.
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