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Who should pay for the Prime Minister to furnish his flat?

Some people are wondering if BoJo swapped political favours for some swankier curtains.

People are currently quite cross about Boris Johnson’s furniture. In particular, they are annoyed about who may have paid for them. A former advisor of BoJo’s says that Tory party donors stumped up £200,000 so the PM could decorate his living space to the nines. If true, this would mean the Prime Minister broke the law because he didn’t publicly declare that he’d received this money.

One of the main reasons politicians are supposed to let everyone know about any large donations they receive is to make it harder for them to get away with taking bribes. Most people don’t give away large amounts of cash out of the goodness of their heart - they want something for their money. There’s pretty widespread agreement amongst Britons that filthy rich people shouldn’t be able to subvert democracy or the law by promising to buy the PM a new sofa if he does something like introduce or block legislation that benefits the donor personally, or awards a government contract to the donor's firm.

Beyond legality, though, this scandal is just bad optics. As Prime Minister, Boris Johnson gets a flat next door to his 10 Downing Street offices for free. He also gets £30,000 a year to do it up, on top of his salary of £161,401. That’s a substantially better job package than most Brits are entitled to. The average full-time salary was £30,420 in 2019 (so before the Covid pandemic and restrictions put a wrecking ball into many people’s livelihoods), while the average amount of money spent on mortgages or rent payments is about £8,850 a year (and much higher in central London where the PM lives).

While few would disagree that running the country is an important job, some may regard BoJo’s blatant splashing of cash as further evidence of how economic inequality in the UK is both substantial and fundamentally unfair.

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