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Tory sleaze row: minister casts doubt on Dominic Cummings’ credibility – politics live

Latest updates: Thérèse Coffey says Rose Garden press conference over Barnard Castle trip was how most people would know Cummings

Here are some of the most interesting articles on the Tory “sleaze” allegations in other papers this morning.

The prime minister is said to have argued in September that there was no evidence lockdowns worked and described them as “mad” during an intense debate within government.

The Times has been told that he repeatedly said he would rather “let it rip” during this period than implement another lockdown, because the restrictions would cause businesses to close and people to lose their jobs.

Boris Johnson’s claim to have paid for the lavish makeover of his Downing Street flat faced fresh scrutiny last night after it was confirmed Tory HQ paid the £58,000 bill nine months ago.

Conservative chiefs are understood to have secretly approved the payment to the Cabinet Office in July.

I will never forget the faces of Foreign Office officials when I informed them that foreign ministers had started texting each other. Being used to listening in to every telephone call, their reaction could have been a scene in Yes, Minister: “But foreign secretary, this could lead to ministers making decisions without being briefed, or on something they don’t understand at all.”

Don’t worry, I reassured them. Most of these messages will be banal greetings; I have only given them the number of my government phone and anything important I will circulate to the department …

The accounts of what happened on the evening of October 30, 2020 could not be further apart – but on one matter there is unanimity. Boris Johnson was in a foul mood on a day he now wishes he could forget.

Having publicly pledged to do everything he could to avoid the “disaster” of a second lockdown, the prime minister had been strongarmed by his most senior ministers and aides into agreeing to just that.

Tom Newton Dunn from Times Radio thinks Boris Johnson could face a higher tax bill as a result of the arrangements used to finance his flat refurbishment.

Of all the different messes swirling around Boris Johnson tonight, ministers seem most worried about his Downing Street flat refurb. Some worry that Boris Johnson may have a tax problem on his hands over it (1)

If a donor did initially foot the £58k bill, which seems so now, it would be viewed by HMRC as a benefit in kind, and therefore has a tax liability. Did the PM pay that extra tax bill, of up to £26,500? Another, as yet, unanswered question. More on @TimesRadio after 7am (2)

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