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PM relaxes with his paintbrushes on his Spanish Costa getaway

Boris Johnson was tonight spotted relaxing with his paintbrushes on his Spanish Costa getaway with wife Carrie and son Wilfred.

The Prime Minister is staying in fellow Tory Zac Goldsmith’s £25,000-a-week estate in the hills above Marbella, but has come under fire for timing his holiday amid the chaos back home of soaring gas prices and empty shelves.

While Mr Johnson insists he remains working to solve Britain’s growing problems, he has been seen lounging around on the terrace of the luxury property with his hands behind his head.

And tonight he was seen sketching an image of the sun setting over the Mediterranean Sea from the Andalusian hillside.

Wearing a crinkled white shirt and with a carefree look on his face, he daubed a canvas in an easel set up on the balcony that faces the sea.

Mr Johnson appears to share the hobby with his political hero, Sir Winston Churchill – a keen amateur artist himself, having created more than 500 paintings.

His appreciation for such artwork may have also stemmed from his late mother, Charlotte Johnson Wahl, who was a painter. 

It was revealed ahead of Carrie’s move into No10 that Mr and Mrs Johnson relax by spending their evenings painting together, with some of their pieces hanging on the walls of her flat in South London. 

The PM had sheltered from the 30 degree sunshine during the day but emerged as the temperature dropped.

The premier has faced criticism over the timing of his trip abroad, amid Britain’s continued fuel and energy crisis, along with the publication of a scathing report that laid bare a string of failures ministers made in handling the coronavirus pandemic.

But No10 and Government figures have defended his right to take a holiday this week, with Security Minister Damian Hinds saying it was ‘important for the whole country’ that its political leader has time to switch off.

He has also been spotted working at his laptop in between periods of relaxation and is being kept regularly updated on the ongoing work to address the current issues around fuel and supply chains, according to his spokesman.

Boris Johnson was last night seen sketching an image of the sun setting over the Mediterranean Sea from the Andalusian hillside

Mr Johnson's trip to the Costa del Sol has been criticised by industry leaders as Britain is gripped by a series of crises

Mr Johnson’s trip to the Costa del Sol has been criticised by industry leaders as Britain is gripped by a series of crises

Mr Johnson appears to share the hobby with his political hero, Sir Winston Churchill - a keen amateur artist himself, having created more than 500 paintings

Mr Johnson appears to share the hobby with his political hero, Sir Winston Churchill – a keen amateur artist himself, having created more than 500 paintings

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds up a painting he produced during a visit to The Discovery School in Kent last year

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds up a painting he produced during a visit to The Discovery School in Kent last year

His appreciation for such artwork may have also stemmed from his late mother, Charlotte Johnson Wahl, who was a painter

His appreciation for such artwork may have also stemmed from his late mother, Charlotte Johnson Wahl, who was a painter 

Boris Johnson and his pregnant wife Carrie are taking a foreign break at a £25,000-a-week Marbella hideaway owned by the Prime Minister's wife's close friend and Tory peer Zac Goldsmith

Boris Johnson and his pregnant wife Carrie are taking a foreign break at a £25,000-a-week Marbella hideaway owned by the Prime Minister’s wife’s close friend and Tory peer Zac Goldsmith

Spanish media reported that the Prime Minister and his young family are staying at Tory peer Zac Goldsmith's home in the hills above the Costa del Sol

 Spanish media reported that the Prime Minister and his young family are staying at Tory peer Zac Goldsmith’s home in the hills above the Costa del Sol

The estate, known as Torre Tramores, is a short drive from the picturesque village of Benahavis, and has its own helipad to make sure VIP holidaymakers can arrive and leave without being seen

The estate, known as Torre Tramores, is a short drive from the picturesque village of Benahavis, and has its own helipad to make sure VIP holidaymakers can arrive and leave without being seen

Artistry seems to run in the Johnson family blood, with his mother, who died last month following a long battle with Parkinson’s, being described as an ‘astonishing self-taught artist’.

Ms Johnson Wahl painted stars such as Joanna Lumley and was hailed as the ‘supreme authority’ in the PM’s family.

Art had been a love of hers since her childhood, revealing to Tatler that her parents gifted her a set of oil paints when she was five.

‘I could handle them well and I immediately began to paint, without instruction. It was something I could make my own and be clever at. None of the others could paint’, she said.

She would go on to hold sell-out art shows in Brussels in the late 1970s, balancing her passion with home-schooling her four children.

The mother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1982, aged 40, but was still determined to continue her career as an artist.

Speaking to the Telegraph in 2008, she said: ‘I try to paint every day if I possibly can, though I have to go to the hospital a lot.

‘I still manage to paint, though my arm will suddenly do a movement which is completely unintentional and that almost brings me to tears.’

She is said to have completed more than 2,000 pieces in her career and was the subject of an exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London in 2015.

Meanwhile, Britain’s wartime leader had an essay, ‘Painting as a Pastime’, published in The Strand Magazine in December 1921, highlighting how the hobby impacted on his career and life.

Sir Winston used painting as a helpful tool for battling his bouts of depression triggered by the disastrous Gallipoli campaign in the First World War in 1915.

He started off doing watercolours and then turned his attention to producing oil works, but was initially reluctant to part with them because he doubted their quality.

Mr Johnson has frequently taken advantage of photo opportunities to show off his artistic skills, picking up paintbrushes on visits to at least three primary schools over the last 18 months.

But while the PM took to his easel again this evening, pressure continued to grow on No10, with concerns remaining over the extent of the fuel and energy crisis which crippled the nation in recent weeks.

Industry bosses insisted tonight that petrol shortages are still serious in London and the South East – with 10 per cent of forecourts remaining empty.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson sits and paints Tulips with children from Colham Manor primary school during a constituency visit on March 18, 2021 in Uxbridge

Prime Minister Boris Johnson sits and paints Tulips with children from Colham Manor primary school during a constituency visit on March 18, 2021 in Uxbridge

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson paints with children during a visit to The Discovery School in West Malling, Kent, in 2020

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson paints with children during a visit to The Discovery School in West Malling, Kent, in 2020

Prime Minister Boris Johnson paints a picture of a face as he joins a reception class during their painting lesson during a visit to St Mary's CE Primary School in Stoke-on-Trent earlier this year

Prime Minister Boris Johnson paints a picture of a face as he joins a reception class during their painting lesson during a visit to St Mary’s CE Primary School in Stoke-on-Trent earlier this year

Boris Johnson's signed bus doodle for the Ann Wilkinson Mockingbird Trust raised £1,000 for the child cancer charity

Boris Johnson’s signed bus doodle for the Ann Wilkinson Mockingbird Trust raised £1,000 for the child cancer charity

Sir Winston Churchill used painting as a helpful tool for battling his bouts of depression triggered by the disastrous Gallipoli campaign in the First World War in 1915

Sir Winston Churchill used painting as a helpful tool for battling his bouts of depression triggered by the disastrous Gallipoli campaign in the First World War in 1915

Experts say a ‘large majority’ of retailers did not know when they would receive their next fuel delivery as the crisis continues to rumble on. 

Drivers who have been fortunate enough to find petrol and diesel in recent weeks have often had to endure long queues and increased prices when filling up. 

While bosses acknowledge the situation has improved in the last few days, shortages still remain in many areas. 

Meanwhile, producers of steel, glass, ceramics and paper and other sectors have said they may be forced to halt production unless the government does something about energy prices, which have rocketed due to a shortage of natural gas in Europe.

Mr Johnson faces growing unrest from Tory MPs amid fears thousands of manufacturing jobs could go in crucial northern seats, with global demand and supply chain issues after the pandemic sending fuel costs spiralling. 

A further headache for the PM then presented itself after the first major probe into the Covid crisis concluded that thousands of care home residents died needlessly in the pandemic, and that ministers were blinded by ‘groupthink’ among scientific advisers who wrongly wanted to manage the spread of the virus, rather than suppress it.

The dossier also claimed that No10’s early decisions on lockdowns and social distancing rank as ‘one of the most important public health failures the UK has ever experienced’. 

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer then called for an inquiry into the crisis to be brought forward. 

Speaking on a visit to a lorry driver training centre near Oldham, he said: ‘I think the least the PM could do is address the families, apologise, and bring forward the public inquiry just as quickly as possible.’

Sir Keir added: ‘The PM should take responsibility because the responsibility is his, and he should apologise.

‘But I’d like to just start by acknowledging just how difficult a day this will be for the bereaved families learning what they will learn in this report, which is a damning indictment of the Government and the flaws and errors and failures of the Government running down the NHS before the pandemic, being far too slow to respond, with the price being paid by those bereaved families, chaotic track and trace.’

Meanwhile, one of the Government’s own ministers today refused to apologise 11 times for the mistakes that had led to thousands of deaths in Britain.

Stephen Barclay, who replaced Michael Gove as the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in No10’s reshuffle last month, was grilled about the report and repeatedly given the opportunity to say sorry by Sky News presenter Kay Burley, but he instead dodged the chance. He even admitted he had not yet read the 151-page report.

Boris Johnson has promised a formal inquiry into the Government’s response to the pandemic will start in Spring 2022 but an exact date has yet to be set. 

When he announced the probe, he insisted key players would be put ‘under the microscope’. 

Labour had originally called for the inquiry to begin in June this year, in line with No10’s lifting of virus restrictions. 

There are currently virtually no Covid curbs on daily life in England. 

Elsewhere, Dominic Cummings today slammed his old boss for his handling of the pandemic, branding the Prime Minister a ‘joke’. 

Speaking to Sky News outside his home, Mr Johnson’s ex chief adviser labelled No10’s system for dealing with crises a ‘disaster’. He said: ‘The system was bad for many years before Covid. 

‘Me and others put into place work to try and improve the system in 2020 after the first wave, unfortunately the Prime Minister – being the joke that he is – has not pushed that work through.’ 

Mr Cummings, who has been a vocal critic of Mr and Mrs Johnson since leaving Downing Street, added: ‘Now we have a joke Prime Minister and a joke leader of the Labour party, and we obviously need a new political system.’

The report, published today by the health and science committees at the House of Commons, is the first to shine a light on the catalogue of failures made at the top of Government. It castigated the ‘chaotic’ performance of the £37billion test and trace system. 

Families of coronavirus victims today called report ‘laughable’, with one campaigner pointing out that it ‘barely mentions the over 150,000 bereaved families’.  

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