Number 10 officials ‘contacted Alistair Darling to see if he would sit on a trust that would cover renovation costs of Downing Street estate’
- Ex-Labour Chancellor allegedly contacted by No 10 officials via Sir Keir’s office
- They wanted him to sit on a trust that would cover any renovation costs of estate
- It is understood he was told arrangements would mirror those of White House
- Lord Darling, who lived above Downing Street from 2007-10, did not want role
Downing Street approached Alistair Darling to see if he would sit on a trust to oversee the refurbishment of Boris Johnson’s flat, it was claimed last night.
The former Labour chancellor was allegedly contacted by officials in Number 10 via Sir Keir Starmer’s office.
They wanted him to sit on a trust that would cover any renovation costs of the Downing Street estate. He turned down the role.
Lord Darling is understood to have been told arrangements would mirror those of the White House and the trust would have been run by Tory donor Lord Brownlow.
The former chancellor, one of only three living Labour politicians to have lived in Downing Street, is understood to have been contacted because of this connection. There was also a desire in the Cabinet Office for the trust to be set up on a cross-party basis.
Refused role: Former Labour chancellor Alistair Darling – who lived above Downing Street when he was Chancellor from 2007 to 2010 under Gordon Brown – did not want the role
The trust was never explicitly linked to the refurbishment of the Prime Minister’s personal living space – the flat above Number 11 Downing Street, Sky News reported.
Instead, the pitch is thought to have implied that it was about the maintenance of the whole building.
But Lord Darling – who lived above Downing Street when he was Chancellor from 2007 to 2010 under Gordon Brown – did not want the role.
He is thought to have argued that the Government, rather than a trust, should maintain government buildings. And he said he was worried that the project could attract donors who might want favours from the PM or a peerage.
A source close to Lord Darling confirmed last night he had been approached about the role last summer.
The source said he had wanted nothing to do with it when the proposed structure was explained to him. ‘He believes when donors are involved there is always a risk they will want something in return,’ the source said.
The trust was never explicitly linked to the refurbishment of the Prime Minister’s personal living space – the flat above Number 11 Downing Street, Sky News reported
The Mail revealed back in March that officials were looking to establish a charitable trust to help pay for the lavish makeover by upmarket interior designer Lulu Lytle.
Then a leaked email, also revealed by the Mail, dated from last October, showed Lord Brownlow had donated £58,000 to cover the payments the party has already made ‘on behalf of the soon-to-be-formed Downing Street Trust – of which I have been made chairman’.
However, the idea may now have been abandoned. On Friday, the Government said it ‘engaged with the Leader of the Opposition’s office on the proposals in July’.
A Labour spokesman said: ‘It is totally misleading for the Conservatives to claim they “engaged” with Labour on the refurbishment of the Downing Street flat.’