So just who IS paying for Boris and Carrie Johnson’s holiday? No10 quiet on PM’s stay at £25,000-a-week Marbella estate owned by his wife’s close friend Zac Goldsmith – as minister says it is ‘important for the whole country’ he has time to relax
- Boris Johnson had headed off on holiday to Spain with pregnant wife Carrie and their 17-month-old son Wilf
- The family have been staying in private villa owned by Tory peer Zac Goldsmith in Marbella on Costa del Sol
- It is his first foreign holiday since start of the coronavirus pandemic after they camped in Scotland last year
- Trip sparked controversy as Britain faces fuel crisis and with families facing a predicted ‘winter of discontent’
Downing Street was silent today on how Boris Johnson is paying for a family sunshine getaway at the opulent Costa del Sol holiday home of one of his ministers.
The Prime Minister, Carrie and son Wilfred left the UK’s cost of living crisis and spiralling gas prices behind them on Friday by jetting off to stay at a £25,00-per-week villa near Marbella.
The property is owned by Lord Goldsmith, a former Conservative MP and friend of Mrs Johnson who was given a peerage by the PM after he lost his seat in 2019 so he could continue as a minister.
The estate, known as Torre Tramores, is a short drive from the picturesque village of Benahavis, and has its own helipad to make sure VIP holidaymakers can arrive and leave without being seen.
Industry leaders have criticised Mr Johnson for the holiday, while Labour has called on the Government to get a ‘grip’ on the ‘chaotic’ crisis the UK is facing.
But the break was defended by one of his ministers today. Home Office minister Damian Hinds said it was ‘important for the whole country’ that its political leader has time to switch off, asking: ‘When is the right time?’
It is not the first time questions have bee raised over an extremely expensive holiday taken by the PM. In 2020 he was investigated by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner over a £15,000 pre-pandemic trip with Carrie to Mustique, in the Caribbean.
He was later cleared of breaking Commons rules over the ‘freebie’ – despite the sleaze watchdog condemning his behaviour and the ‘unusual’ arrangements.
Boris Johnson and his pregnant wife Carrie are taking a foreign break at a £25,000-a-week Marbella hideaway owned by the Prime Minister’s wife’s close friend and Tory peer Zac Goldsmith
Spanish media reported that the Prime Minister and his young family are staying at Tory peer Zac Goldsmith’s home in the hills above the Costa del Sol.
Home Office minister Damian Hinds said it was ‘important for the whole country’ that its political leader has time to switch off, asking: ‘When is the right time?’
Plenty of security officials and police activity have been spotted around the property over the last day, after Boris’ trip was revealed yesterday
Mr Johnson’s holiday there is likely to be seized on by critics, who will point out that he has left the country in the middle of a fuel crisis and with families facing a predicted ‘winter of discontent’, surging energy prices and stock shortages. Pictured: Boris and Carrie last took a family break with Wilfred in Scotland last year
But it is hoped some time in the luxurious hillside hideaway will give him time to recharge. The main house is set on three levels and sleeps 13. It includes a two-bedroom apartment with private access
A Civil Guard patrol car was spotted driving up to an entrance gate at lunchtime today and greeting undercover police parked near the property as they left
The estate, known as Torre Tramores, is a short drive from the picturesque village of Benahavis, and has its own helipad to make sure VIP holidaymakers can arrive and leave without being seen
Zac and Carrie: the Tory eco-warriors
Carrie Johnson and Environment Minister Lord Goldsmith are both passionate supporters of the environment and animal welfare.
The pair are close friends, with Mrs Johnson having campaigned for the peer when he tried and failed to secure re-election as an MP at the 2019 general election.
Mrs Johnson said at the time that she was ‘gutted’ at his defeat. He was subsequently made a peer.
Both Mrs Johnson and Lord Goldsmith are patrons of the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation.
They both campaigned for the ivory ban, with Lord Goldsmith leading government efforts to extend it beyond just elephants to also include hippos, narwhals and walrus.
They have also pushed for mandatory CCTV in slaughterhouses and spoken out against whaling.
Mrs Johnson addressed a March Against Whaling protest in January 2019 and Lord Goldsmith has previously backed an early day motion in Parliament which stated whaling is ‘cruel and unnecessary and that there is no humane way to kill a whale’.
Lord Goldsmith is also leading the Government’s new Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill which will recognise vertebrate animals as sentient beings in UK law.
The Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation has backed the move on animal sentience but also wants invertebrates to be included in the legislation.
Plenty of security officials and police activity have been spotted around the Marbella property over the last day, after Boris’ trip was revealed by the Mail and other newspapers yesterday.
Mr Johnson’s foreign holiday – his first since before the pandemic – has been seized on by critics, who will point out that he has left the country in the middle of a fuel crisis and with families facing a predicted ‘winter of discontent’, surging energy prices and stock shortages.
But it is hoped some time in the luxurious Spanish hillside hideaway will give him time to recharge.
And residents of the picturesque village of Benahavis said the Prime Minister’s visit had become the talk among locals.
‘Yes for sure your prime minister Boris Johnson is staying up at the house,’ farmer Pedro Benares told MailOnline. ‘I don’t know when he arrived but everyone in the village is talking about it.
‘It is a very big house and very private but they have to drive in and out.’
The main house is set over three levels and can sleep up to 13 people. It also includes a two-bedroom apartment with private access.
There is also a slightly smaller villa that sleeps up to 10 people and includes five en-suite bedrooms which can be rented separately.
Sky News asked Mr Hinds this morning if now was the right time for the Prime Minister to go on holiday, and he replied: ‘When is the right time? I think it is important that people do have an opportunity to be with their families to have some relaxing, unwinding.
‘But I wouldn’t want to overstate the amount of unwinding and relaxing you get to do as prime minister because as I say you are constantly in touch, you are constantly being briefed and you remain in charge of the Government.’
He later added: ‘What is important for the rest of us actually, for the whole country, is that the Prime Minister does get to have some family time, does get to have a break.’
But the director general of UK Steel said now is ‘not the time’ for Boris Johnson to be on holiday, with firms warning they may have to halt production.
Gareth Stace told LBC: ‘I’m sure he can get on the phone and get talking to them but to my mind, now is not the time for a prime minister to be on holiday, from the steel sector point of view.’
Boris Johnson’s holidays as PM have been few and far between due to the Covid crisis, but they have raised eyebrows.
His predecessor Theresa May was happy quietly walking the Swiss and Italian hills with husband Philip, and David Cameron enjoyed low-key escapes to Cornwall and Spain with Sam and the kids.
But Mr Johnson has shown a liking for the homes of the mega-rich.
In July he was cleared of breaking Commons rules over a £15,000 Mustique ‘freebie’ with Carrie – despite the sleaze watchdog condemning his behaviour and the ‘unusual’ arrangements.
The cross-party standards committee found the PM had made an ‘accurate and complete’ declaration about the holiday in December 2019, saying it was a donation from Carphone Warehouse founder David Ross even though the couple did not stay in his villa.
However, the committee – chaired by Labour MP Chris Bryant – had to overrule standards commissioner Kathryn Stone.
She had concluded that Mr Johnson did breach the Code of Conduct during a 15-month wrangle after initially failing to provide a full explanation, slamming him for ‘not showing the accountability required of those in public life’.
The report also suggested that the premier himself did not know exactly how the jaunt was being funded until after he arrived on Mustique and realised he was not staying in Mr Ross’s own property.
The row over Mr Johnson’s holiday from Boxing Day 2019 to January 5, 2020 started after he declared the £15,000 cost was a ‘benefit in kind’ from Mr Ross.
Mr Ross initially denied having paid for it, and it appears there was a complicated villa swap arrangement that meant Mr Johnson ended up staying in a different property owned by an American family.
Princess Diana is rumoured to have stayed at the exclusive estate, set in over 600 acres of woodland, after her divorce from Prince Charles.
And Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan – then a professional cricketer – was pictured on his 1995 honeymoon at the estate with his now ex-wife Jemima Goldsmith, Lord Goldsmith’s sister.
Mr Johnson has not been pictured at the property, and it is not known if he has left the estate since arriving on Friday with pregnant wife Carrie, 33, and their one-year-old son Wilfred.
A Civil Guard patrol car was spotted driving up to an entrance gate at lunchtime today and greeting undercover police parked near the property as they left.
Four burly men in another unmarked car, thought to be police officers normally based in Madrid, were also seen circling the estate.
News of Boris’ escape to the Spanish sun emerged late on Saturday.
It is his first foreign holiday since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and comes as the UK is in the grips of a fuel crisis with families facing a predicted ‘winter of discontent’ with surging energy prices and food shortages.
His last break was a radically different summer staycation in Scotland which he had to cut short because of security concerns.
He picked a cottage in remote Applecross on the north-west coast in August last year when Carrie was still his fiancée.
Dog Dilyn joined them for the break, which ended amid accusations the PM had pitched a tent in a farmer’s field without permission after they reportedly chose to camp for a few nights of their stay.
Temperatures in Marbella, the famous Costa Del Sol resort a 30-minute drive from the current getaway, were up in the mid-seventies at midday today.
A five-minute drive away in the village of Benahavis, British expats and holidaymakers were enjoying al fresco lunches under a cloudless blue sky.
It was not clear today when Boris and his family will stay in the area until, although they are expected to fly back to Britain on Wednesday.
Torre de Tramores boasts on its website: ‘What sets this exclusive and private getaway apart is the quality and authenticity of its antiques and furnishings, along with the natural splendour and historical atmosphere of its environment.
‘With its understated elegance and rustic charm, the Tramores estate offers the perfect retreat to unwind, meditate and be inspired, or entertain family and friends.’
Guests are invited to ‘find some old-fashioned romance amid rambling vines and sun-kissed stone walls’ in an official estate publicity brochure available online.
The owners describe it as the ‘most enchanting, picturesque and serene private estate in southern Spain.’
Tennis fan Mr Johnson, who went on a health kick after coronavirus nearly killed him last year, could also take advantage of the estate’s court.
Local paper Diario Sur, citing well-placed sources, confirmed today Boris Johnson and his family were staying at the estate, which has also played host to Hugh Grant.
Carrie Johnson is a close friend of Lord Goldsmith (pictured left, with Health Secretary Sajid Javid out campaigning in 2017)
The Prime Minister has flown to Marbella with his pregnant wife Carrie and their 17-month-old son Wilf, who is enjoying his first foreign break
The Prime Minister is travelling with his pregnant wife Carrie and their 17-month-old son Wilf, who is enjoying his first foreign break
The Costa del Sol is popular with prime ministers: Tony Blair and his wife Cherie stayed at a friend’s house in the village of Benahavis, which was visited by Michelle Obama in 2010
Cabinet minister defends PM’s holiday
A Cabinet minister has defended Boris Johnson for going on holiday as the Government battles to stem a cost of living crisis and the fallout from spiralling gas prices.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng insisted it was ‘reasonable’ for the Prime Minister to take a break, after he flew to Marbella to holiday in a private villa on the Costa del Sol.
Mr Kwarteng said he remains in ‘regular WhatsApp contact’ with the Prime Minister, who he noted has recently lost his mother.
Downing Street did not deny reports Mr Johnson had travelled to Spain, but declined to say whether the Prime Minister was instead working at No 10 or in Chequers, as is commonplace.
The Business Secretary told Times Radio: ‘I believe he has gone away. I’m not sure where he’s gone.
‘But what I would say is I am in regular contact with him. He’s also had a year-and-a-half in which he’s almost lost his life to Covid, his mother passed away very sadly two or three weeks ago and he may have decided to take a short break.
‘I think that’s something reasonable.
‘I’m in regular WhatsApp contact with him, I spoke to him only a few days ago. I’m not sure when he’s supposed to have left the country.’
Boris’ trip to the Mediterranean coast comes as Britain faces several crises which have been described as a ‘winter of discontent’.
While the Marbella sunshine hit 75C, back at home there were fears of a winter chill as millions face soaring energy bills.
Energy supplier Ovo’s chief executive Stephen Fitzpatrick told the Andrew Marr show this morning that gas prices has rocketed by 1000 per cent in the last 12 months.
Questioned on the fears Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng was unable to guarantee there would not be interruptions to gas supply this winter but insisted he was ‘as certain as I could be’ it would continue.
The escalating costs mean factories in several industries are warning of an impending shutdown.
Those affected include manufacturers, food producers and a fertiliser giant that produces CO2 to keep food products fresh.
Speaking about Mr Johnson’s holiday, a Westminster source told the Sunday Mirror: ‘It’s fine the PM taking a break, but the timing shows just how out of touch he is with ordinary Brits facing bills, bills and yet more bills.’
However, his allies will argue that his last proper break was on the Caribbean island of Mustique in early January last year – since when he has nearly died from Covid, lost his mother, divorced, become a father, remarried and prepared to welcome another child, all while dealing with the UK’s gravest crisis since the Second World War.
Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s former spin doctor, wrote a foul-mouthed tweet about the news this morning, saying: ‘Marbella? How lovely. F*** business. Slash welfare. Take a holiday’.
The former New Labour heavyweight also told LBC this morning: ‘Everybody’s entitled to a break and you want people in public life to be fit and healthy and focused and my problem with him is that it underlines the fact that he isn’t really focused on the job in the way that he should be.
‘I think you’d be hard-pressed to say the country is in a very good state at the moment. Energy crisis, HGV shortage, real shortage, real problems in relation to the Northern Ireland protocol.
‘There’s half a dozen things that the Prime Minister should be gripping.
‘It’s also true, as you know I worked with Tony Blair a long time, you can do an awful lot of work wherever you are, but I feel that Boris Johnson is trolling us the whole time.
‘I don’t think he’s focused on the job in the way that he should be.’
It was reported yesterday that Mr Johnson was ‘utterly exhausted’ by the events of recent months.
The Prime Minister has not had good luck with his holidays, with his summer ‘staycation’ in the West Country curtailed by the Afghanistan crisis after barely a day.
He was spotted scurrying to Taunton train station in August with his shirt tail flapping out of his trousers as Kabul fell under Taliban control.
That came a year after an equally disastrous break to the Scottish Highlands, where he pitched a tent on a windswept shoreline next to a holiday cottage.
The trip was cut short for security reasons after his location was exposed by a national newspaper.
Mr Johnson also came close to ‘catastrophe’ when he was swept out to sea while attempting to paddle-board during the trip, only to be rescued by his security detail, it was claimed.
MailOnline approached Downing Street but a spokesperson declined to comment.
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