John McDonnell will shun the grace and favour mansion traditionally offered to chancellors of the exchequer, if Labour wins the election – and instead open it to the public, he has told the Observer.
The shadow chancellor, who last week announced a new in Labour’s manifesto, also suggested Jeremy Corbyn would steer clear of using the prime minister’s country residence, Chequers.
Asked if he would occupy the vast 18th-century Buckinghamshire house, which is set in 215 acres, McDonnell said: “No, why would I go there? We’ll open it up to the general public.”
The prime minister of the day decides which senior minister can use Dorneywood, which is owned by a charitable trust. By convention it has gone to chancellors.
But under Tony Blair, the then chancellor Gordon Brown made little use of it and it was given to the deputy prime minister, John Prescott, who was photographed playing croquet on its front lawn while Blair was out of the country.
The interior of the house contains a mural by Rex Whistler. The gardens are open to the public by the National Trust in the summer, as is the house on certain dates.
• This article was amended on 25 November 2019 to remove a reference to Dorneywood containing paintings and furniture from the Government Art Collection. After publication, a spokesman advised that the collection had not provided any.