“I’ve changed my mobile phone” is fast becoming the Tory government version of “the dog ate my homework”, isn’t it?
What’s amazing is that Boris Johnson’s advisor on ministerial interests, Lord Geidt, has accepted this excuse for why Johnson did not provide important information to the inquiry on funding for Johnson’s Downing Street flat.
We all know the details now, don’t we? If not, just skip past the quoted parts that follow, taken from a previous Vox Political article, giving the story so far:
Johnson was accused last April of having misled Parliament by failing to provide details of funding for the renovations to his official Downing Street flat.
The allegation was that private donations to the Conservative Party totalling £60,000 had been used as part of £200,000 worth of refurbishments to the flat.
If so, it should have been reported to the Electoral Commission, because the Ministerial Code demands that “a statement covering relevant Ministers’ interests will be published twice yearly”. The last such statement (at the time of the investigation last April) had appeared in July 2020, eight months previously.
If Johnson had received the money from other people, this created a potential conflict of interest but Geidt concluded very swiftly that Johnson did not breach the Ministerial Code and that no conflict, or reasonably perceived conflict, of interest arose.
He said that £52,000 had been contributed by Lord Brownlow, but via a blind trust, meaning Johnson seemed unaware that Brownlow had contributed his own money to it.
But the Electoral Commission had launched its own investigation – and this has just concluded that Johnson did approach Brownlow for cash, via WhatsApp – the government’s favoured method of avoiding scrutiny, back in November 2020.
It seems clear that, having requested it from Brownlow, Johnson could not have been unaware of its origin when the bills were suddenly paid.
That was the situation on December 11. Now, Lord Geidt has published a WhatsApp exchange between Johnson and Brownlow, in which Brownlow said there would be no problem finding the cash for the flat refurbishment because he knew how it would be provided.
The intention had been for the money to come from a blind trust, but this did not happen and it was all provided by Brownlow instead.
So it seems incongruous to This Writer that Johnson claims not to know who provided the cash, having gone straight to Brownlow when he needed more.
Furthermore, his excuse that he had replaced his mobile phone and no longer had access to the WhatsApp exchange does not make sense, because his WhatsApp account would, logically, have been transferred to the new phone.
It is a simple process and one that This Writer feels sure Johnson would have carried out – if he didn’t want to lose all of his WhatsApp contacts and all of his chats. Is it the way the Electoral Commission gained access to the Brownlow chat?
Whatever the case, it seems clear that Johnson either lied to Lord Geidt by saying he couldn’t access the Brownlow chat when he could – or Johnson is an imbecile who can’t use a mobile phone properly.
In either case, he should not be the prime minister of the UK.
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