Swedish furniture-maker Ikea has been called in to advise on furniture for the new parliamentary building in a government attempt to slash costs on the controversial project.

The move follows a government trade mission to Sweden led by deputy prime minister John Prescott, which visited Ikea’s head office in Stockholm.

The Parliamentary Works Committee, responsible for the construction and fit-out of the building, has come under intense pressure from Prescott to reduce the spiralling cost of Portcullis House, currently running at £1.2m for each MP.

The surprising inclination towards the Swedish multinational follows the use of Ikea chairs and sofas at last year’s Tory Party Conference. A committee insider said Prescott was impressed by design and installation costs.

The Hopkins-specified £200 000 worth of leather seats and solid English oak desks are to be jettisoned in favour of Ikea futons and flat-pack office furniture that MPs could assemble themselves.

A number of Tory Euro-sceptics have expressed opposition to the move. “This is typical new Labour spin. What is wrong with using a British furniture-maker such as Habitat?” But a committee insider said: “Prescott told us if it was good enough for the royal family in Sweden, then it was good enough for MPs.” The insider added that Prescott also felt it would allow a number of New Labour MPs to get closer to the Labour Party’s traditions by indulging in manual work assembling the units.