James Cleverly criticized the “juxtaposition” of questions about the prime minister’s lavish makeover with vital international efforts to help Delhi cope with its huge death toll.
When told that no one was suggesting that the funding for the renovation was more important, the Minister of Foreign Affairs replied, “Yes, that is what you have led with.”
The clash came as Mr Cleverly once again insisted that various investigations into the controversy should take their course, refuting calls for Mr Johnson to reveal ‘who made the upfront payment’.
No 10 failed to say whether a donor had paid a second bill for the apartment – with renovations costing up to £ 200,000 – or whether the PM was looking for freebies to pay his childcare bills .
On Sunday, the Scottish Tory leader exerted pressure by agreeing that Mr Johnson must resign if he is found to have broken the ministerial spending code.
But Mr Cleverly criticized the questioning on ITV Hello Great Britain, saying, “We have just released reports on the situation in India.
“And my boss, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, is about to meet with his foreign minister colleagues from around the world to address some of the really important issues that we are discussing.
The presenter accused the minister of being “cunning” – agreeing that the controversy is “no more important than a person dying every four minutes in India” – prompting Mr Cleverly to say: “This is what you led. ”
Mr Johnson is facing four inquiries, after repeatedly failing to deny that the Conservative Party initially funded the expensive renovation of the apartment above No.11 Downing Street.
The party is believed to have secretly approved the payment of a £ 58,000 bill nine months ago – a payment then covered by a wealthy donor, according to a leaked email.
He is also criticized for refusing to commit to publishing the findings of his new adviser’s investigation into the case – despite criticism that he is being “judge and jury”.
Worse still, the Electoral Commission launched an official investigation, claiming that there is reason to believe that “one or more offenses may have occurred”.
Mr Cleverly agreed that “no one is above the law”, adding: “The other reports will come out when they come out and the Prime Minister will respond to what they say.
“I cannot go further than what the Prime Minister has done, because I do not know the details.”