Tory MP dismisses importance of Boris Johnson flat scandal – 'I get more emails about bees'

James Morris
·Senior news reporter, Yahoo News UK
·3-min read
Dehenna Davison: 'At the moment, I'm getting more emails about bees.' (@itvpeston/Twitter)
Dehenna Davison: 'At the moment, I'm getting more emails about bees.' (@itvpeston/Twitter)

A Conservative MP has said she has been getting 10 times more emails about bees than the Boris Johnson flat scandal.

Dehenna Davison played down the importance of the row, claiming it has not been of concern to voters in and around her Bishop Auckland constituency in the North East.

It comes after the Electoral Commission announced on Wednesday that it would be formally investigating how the refurbishment of the prime minister's Downing Street flat was initially funded.

The watchdog, which is probing the Tory Party, said there are "reasonable grounds to suspect that an offence or offences may have occurred".

Watch: Downing Street flat refurbishment row: What's it all about?

Davison, however, claimed the matter had been accentuated by the “Westminster-centric” media – on Thursday, at least eight national newspapers led with the story on their front pages.

Speaking on ITV’s Peston show on Wednesday night, Davison said: “I always take a reading from my inbox and calls that are coming into my constituency office.

Some of Thursday's front page headlines about the flat refurbishment scandal. (@hendopolis/Twitter)
Some of Thursday's front page headlines about the flat refurbishment scandal. (@hendopolis/Twitter)

“And at the moment, as it stands, I think we’ve had 12 emails in about this entire saga, which is roughly one tenth of the number of emails I’ve had about bees [and] roughly one eighth of the number of emails I’ve had about animal husbandry.

“I don’t think in Bishop Auckland this is necessarily sticking. And certainly from my time out and about on the doorstep, right across by constituency but also in Hartlepool [where there is a parliamentary by-election next week], it hasn’t been brought up once.”

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, wearing a face covering due to Covid-19, gestures as he takes part in a science lesson at King Solomon Academy in London, on April 29, 2021. (Photo by Dan Kitwood / POOL / AFP) (Photo by DAN KITWOOD/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Boris Johnson pictured on a visit to King Solomon Academy in London on Thursday. (Dan Kitwood/pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Labour’s Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas, appearing on the same show, also admitted he has not been “awash” with emails about the matter as he was asked if “ordinary” voters care about it.

He said his constituency is in the middle of a “COVID triangle”: “People are worried about their jobs, housing, the health and wellbeing of their family…”

However, he also said “there’s something building”.

“I think this sort of story can grow and grow and then sort of detonate,” he said.

Johnson has said he “personally” paid for the renovations – but has refused to say whether he received an initial donation from the Conservative Party to cover the costs reported to be up to £200,000.

Questions have been mounting over the flat since former aide Dominic Cummings accused Johnson of wanting donors to “secretly pay” for the renovations in a “possibly illegal” move.

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The Electoral Commission said its investigation will “determine whether any transactions relating” to the renovations “fall within the regime regulated by the commission and whether such funding was reported as required”.

The Conservative Party said it would “continue to work constructively” with the commission.

Watch: Matt Hancock avoids answering questions related to Boris Johnson's flat