Inside Dominic Raab and Liz Truss plan to share 115-room mansion

Dominic Raab grilled on leadership ambitions

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Since last September’s Cabinet reshuffle, one of the lesser known disputes which has been rumbling on behind the scenes at Downing Street was over who should claim residence of the Chevening House mansion in Kent. Historically, the home is used by the Foreign Secretary, so why has a compromise been sought on this occasion? Has a similar scenario ever happened before?

Towards the end of 2021 it was revealed that the Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss would share the Grade-One-listed Chevening country home.

September’s Cabinet reshuffle saw Mr Raab moved from his position as Foreign Secretary and replaced by the incumbent Ms Truss.

However, despite changing roles, Mr Raab refused to relinquish Chevening, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson forced to intervene and ask the pair to compromise on a shared living basis.

At the time, a Government spokesman said: “The Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary will share access to Chevening as has happened in previous administrations.”

The 115-room building was gifted to the nation in the 1950s.

Since then, it has been up to the PM to decide who uses Chevening, with the Foreign Secretary the usual beneficiary.

Previously, ex-deputy prime minister Sir Nick Clegg and foreign secretaries Lord Hague and Lord Hammond used the house.

Mr Raab and Ms Truss are expected to make equal use of the mansion for both personal and work-related reasons.

Originally, the 7th Earl Stanhope gave Chevening to the nation – to become a grace and favour home – when he died, to allow a senior minister access to a grand retreat outside London.

The palatial 17th century mansion is set in a 3,500-acre estate.

Included within its grounds is a lake, tennis courts, maze, woodlands and immaculately maintained gardens.

A grace-and-favour home is a residential property owned by the monarch and leased, often rent-free, to individuals as part of an employment package or in gratitude for past services.

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The Prime Minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer and Chief Whip are all examples of political positions which come complete with a grace-and-favour residence.

During the most recent Cabinet reshuffle, Ms Truss made the unorthodox decision to allow the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Michael Gove to take up residence in the Carlton Gardens property.

Traditionally the home is also afforded to the Foreign Secretary, however Ms Truss is said to be happy for him to live there.

Located in the City of Westminster, London, Mr Gove is the first Cabinet minister with the relatively junior post of Housing Minister to be given a grace-and-favour home.

Mr Gove was given access to Carlton Gardens as a result of security concerns.

Since 1945, two floors of Carlton Gardens have been occupied by the Foreign Secretary as their official residence.

This was after the then Labour Party politician Ernst Bevin complained about his ‘shabby flat’ in Downing Street.

A ballroom, two dining rooms and a three-bedroom apartment are all contained within the property.

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