George Osborne, pictured right, bought his Cheshire farmhouse ten months prior to being elected as Conservative MP for Tatton in 2001 - a seat he has held ever since. He also owned a property purchased for £700,000 in London, where his wife and he had lived since the late '90s, which is his main residence.
Land Registry records show that by June 2000, the mortgage on the London house was £150,000. He then re-mortgaged it less than half a year later for £620,299, some of which went to pay for the Cheshire property. Then, once he was elected he swapped designations (or "flipped" them, to use the term chosen by the press) declaring the Cheshire house to be his main residence. That allowed him to claim expenses to cover mortgage interest on the London property. With us so far? We don't doubt it - we don't assume you're all idiots like UKIP do.
Two years later, he took out another mortgage on the house in Cheshire and declared that it was now his second home - which then allowed him to claim expenses covering the costs on that one. It's thought that he's had around £100,000 so far, and it also conveniently allowed him to dramatically reduce the loan on the London place to £199,875.
Good God, man. You may be a bit of a whizz with the figures what with you being Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer and all, but that's just showing off. All in all, he's come very close to the maximum permitted limit that MPs can claim for second homes; but, he claims, at no time did he break the rules and has enjoyed no personal gain as a result of the changes in designation. He also says the Commons’ Fees Office actually advised him to designate the London address as his second home.
Finally, the London house was sold in 2006, netting Osborne a tasty £748,000 profit.
However, David Cameron has banned his MPs from "flipping" homes in this way as he tries his very hardest to make his party look as though they are morally superior to Labour and says that it is not good enough for any Conservative party member to simply claim that they have followed the rules - quite rightly, he now expects them to have a little bit of common human decency too; though few of us are under any illusion that this would ever have been the case had the press not got their teeth into the expenses claims in the first place.
Mr. Osborne's actions have been "entirely reasonable as all the costs are associated with his need to have a second home in Cheshire, and his arrangements have always sought to minimise the interest costs to the taxpayer," says a spokeman for the MP. If that's the case, why didn't you choose a small, cheaper property? There's plenty of other MPs who manage perfectly well with flats instead of farmhouses. Those that don't move their whole family into them, at any rate.
Mr. Osborne is going to be facing some questions, it seems; assuming his party's leader is being sincere when he says that Tory MPs must be beyond reproach. If he can't answer them, there's only one way Mr. Cameron can prove he means what he says - Osborne will have to go.