In this government by Grand Designs, Johnson has spaffed the budget and the roof is leaking | Marina Hyde

In this government by Grand Designs, Johnson has spaffed the budget and the roof is leaking | Marina Hyde

The PM touting for a £150k treehouse while voting against free school meals makes the MPs’ expenses scandal look like a halcyon era

In many ways it was impressive to get a whole two days into Boris Johnson’s world statesman tour before it emerged he’d tried to get a Tory donor to fund a £150,000 treehouse for his then infant son. No matter what Commonwealth/G7/Nato posturing comes after that, you’ll have found it rather difficult to suspend your disbelief. It’s like hearing that Churchill whined and whined to get some mid-century sad-sack to buy his grandson a pony. Fine: 30 ponies.

The story of the treehouse somehow still retains the power to shock, if only as a reminder that there really is no beginning to the prime minister’s financial morality. As reported by the Times, Johnson and his wife planned to build an eye-wateringly expensive treehouse in the grounds of Chequers in autumn 2020, potentially funded by the Tory donor Lord Brownlow. “He was told it would look terrible,” a government source told the paper, yet the PM pressed ahead. It was only when the Johnsons’ security staff objected definitively on the basis that the treehouse was visible from the road that the welfare king and queen of Downing Street had to reluctantly abandon their plans. At the time, their son would have been about six months old.

What Just Happened?! by Marina Hyde is now available at guardianbookshop.com

Marina Hyde is a Guardian columnist

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