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Boris Johnson to share official country residence with David Davis and Liam Fox

'It reflects the fact that all those secretaries of state will as part of their work be meeting and engaging with and hosting foreign visitors'

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Monday 18 July 2016 16:31 BST
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The 17th-century manor house Chevening has been used by foreign secretaries since the 1980s
The 17th-century manor house Chevening has been used by foreign secretaries since the 1980s (Getty)

Boris Johnson is to share the Foreign Secretary’s official country residence - used to entertain foreign dignitaries - with Cabinet colleagues David Davis and Liam Fox, Downing Street has announced.

The 17th-century manor house Chevening, in Kent, has been used by foreign secretaries since the 1980s as a country retreat and a venue to host international visitors. It is not the first time, however, the property has been shared - under the previous government William Hague with deputy prime minister Nick Clegg had equal access to the grand estate.

It is expected that the 115-room mansion will now be used by Mr Johnson, Brexit Secretary Mr Davis and International Trade Secretary Dr Fox as and when they have foreign dignitaries to entertain.

Explaining Theresa May's decision, the Prime Minister's spokeswoman said: "It reflects the fact that all those secretaries of state will as part of their work be meeting and engaging with and hosting foreign visitors and leaders and it will provide an opportunity to do that."

Meanwhile, Ms May herself will continue with the recent tradition established by Tony Blair and continued by Gordon Brown and David Cameron of living in the flat above 11 Downing Street while the Chancellor Philip Hammond moves into the Number 10 flat. Ms May has not yet spent the night at Downing Street as PM, but is expected to move in shortly.

Mr Hammond will have use of Dorneywood in Buckinghamshire, which has been a country retreat for ministers since the 1940s. It has usually been occupied by Chancellors, but has also been used by other senior members of the government, including deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, who was famously photographed playing croquet on its lawn.

Mr Johnson will also have use of 1 Carlton Gardens, near to Buckingham Palace, as his London residence.

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