Politics

No 10 won’t say if PM is on holiday at Spanish villa owned by Lord Goldsmith


No 10 has declined to say whether Boris Johnson is holidaying at minister Lord Goldsmith’s luxury Spanish villa, as the government faces accusations of putting its “out of office on” during a crisis.

It comes after The Mirror reported that the prime minister was enjoying a vacation at the Costa del Sol villa owned by Lord Goldsmith, who was handed a life peerage by the prime minister in 2019 after losing his Commons seat.

Asked whether the prime minister had paid for the holiday himself — or whether the trip was a donation — the prime minister’s official spokesperson said: “Any declarations will be made in the normal, but I don’t have anything to add on that.”

Quizzed on the reports Mr Johnson was staying at the Marbella villa of the environment minister Lord Goldsmith, they added: “I wouldn’t get into anything on location for security reasons.”

“Any necessary declarations will be made in the normal way.”

Downing Street also insisted that the prime minister continued to “be in charge” of the government — dismissing suggestions that Dominic Raab, the recently-appointed deputy prime minister, was temporarily filling in.

On Monday, Mr Johnson had taken calls from both the Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and the crown prince of Saudi Arabian, Mohammed bin Salman.

“The prime minister continues to be in charge as is always the case,” the prime minister’s spokesperson added.

“The deputy prime minister has an important role to play, including stepping up for the prime minister in Parliament, obviously we’re in recess at the moment, but the prime minister has taken calls with leaders and there will be others to follow.”

The remarks come after Mr Johnson faced criticism from Labour for flying to Marbella with his family as the government deals with the deepening energy crisis and concerns over the cost of living.

“In the teeth of a crisis of its own making, the government has put its out of office on,” the shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Bridget Phillipson said.

She added: “The two key government departments responsible for the current cost of living crisis have spent this morning infighting about whether they were in talks with each other.

“What a farce. If government ministers can’t even tell the truth about each other, then what hope do we have for the challenges facing our country? We need urgent answers on who exactly is running the show.

“The government needs to get a grip because the British people are paying the price for the prime minister’s incompetence.”

Earlier, however, the Home Office minister, Damian Hinds, defended the prime minister’s decision to go on holiday, telling Sky News: “When is the right time? I think it is important that people do have an opportunity to be with their families to have some relaxing, unwinding.

“But I wouldn’t want to overstate the amount of unwinding and relaxing you get to do as prime minister because as I say you are constantly in touch, you are constantly being briefed and you remain in charge of the government.”

He later added: “What is important for the rest of us actually, for the whole country, is that the prime minister does get to have some family time, does get to have a break.”

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