Reshuffled ministers tussle over occupancy of country house Chevening

Reports suggest Dominic Raab does not want to hand the home over to his successor as foreign secretary

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Friday 17 September 2021 15:46
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<p>The final decision about who will get to use the property rests with Mr Johnson </p>

The final decision about who will get to use the property rests with Mr Johnson

A row has broken out at the top of Boris Johnson’s reshuffled cabinet over who should have access to the elegant Chevening country house in Kent.

The 17th-century manor is traditionally used as the country retreat for the foreign secretary, in a similar way to the prime minister’s Chequers getaway in Buckinghamshire.

But reports suggest that outgoing foreign secretary Dominic Raab is refusing to hand it over to his successor Liz Truss, arguing that his new title of deputy prime minister entitles him to hold on to it.

The final decision rests with Mr Johnson, and the prime minister’s official spokesperson today confirmed that he has not yet decided who will get to use the 15-bedroom property, which sits in extensive parkland near Sevenoaks.

Asked if Raab or Truss would get the house, or whether they would be asked to share it, the spokesperson said: “There is a long-standing process in place for nominating occupants of Chevening House and we will update in due course.

“We will conclude the reshuffle, then we will get into the long-standing processes around residences.”

The home of the earls of Stanhope for generations, the property was passed on to a trust in 1959 to serve as a country residence for a royal or a cabinet member nominated by the PM.

Since the 1970s, the house has almost always been occupied by the foreign secretary, though Nick Clegg shared it with William Hague, the then foreign secretary, during his time as deputy prime minister from 2010-15.

During his own stint as foreign secretary, Mr Johnson was required by the then prime minister Theresa May to share occupancy with international trade secretary Liam Fox and Brexit secretary David Davis, on the premise that each may have to host foreign visitors and leaders.

Ms Truss replaced Mr Raab as foreign secretary in Wednesday’s reshuffle, but Mr Raab was granted the rank of deputy prime minister as a consolation, alongside his other titles of justice secretary and lord chancellor.

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