Downing Street was accused of pursuing “vanity projects” after spending more than £2 million on preparations for White House-style press briefings.
The Cabinet Office has revealed £2.6 million is being spent on renovating No 9 so that it can host televised question-and-answer sessions with journalists, saying: “This will require one-off capital works, including audio-visual equipment, internet infrastructure, electrical works and lighting.
“This spending is in the public interest as the new broadcasting of lobby briefings will increase public accountability and transparency about the work of the government.
“Such spending reflects that 9 Downing Street is a Grade I listed building.”
The disclosure comes as Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds are said to have spent £200,000 refurbishing their flat at No 11. Yesterday, it was claimed the money had come from Conservative Party donors.
But opposition politicians questioned the prime minister’s spending amid growing anger at the government proposing a pay rise for NHS staff of just 1%.
With costs of refurbishing the flat said to be spiralling, Downing Street refused to deny that Mr Johnson was considering setting up a charity to pay for the works.
The move raised concerns of possible conflicts of interest, offering a potential backdoor to providing a financial benefit to the prime minister.
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