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Sat, 26 September 2020

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Boris Johnson sparks 'cronyism' row after awarding peerages to senior party donors and his own brother

Boris Johnson sparks 'cronyism' row after awarding peerages to senior party donors and his own brother

Jo Johnson is among those set to be handed peerages

3 min read

Boris Johnson is facing accusations of cronyism after he awarded peerages to a raft of senior party figures and his own brother Jo.

The Prime Minister has come under fire after it was revealed that Tory party donor Michael Spicer, former party chairman Sir Patrick McLoughlin and Mr Johnson's own senior adviser, Eddie Lister, are among those set to enter the House of Lords.

A host of senior Brexiteers, including former Labour MP and Vote Leave supporter Kate Hoey, ex-Brexit Party MEP Claire Fox and newspaper columnist Charles Moore have also been put forward for peerages, a list published on Friday showed.

And Jo Johnson, who resigned from the Commons last year over opposition to his brother's Brexit plans, is also set to become a Conservative peer.

But the announcement has sparked anger from some opposition parties, with the SNP's MP Pete Wishart saying it was the "worst kind of cronyism".

"It's telling that in the middle of a global health pandemic and economic crisis that is costing thousands of people their jobs, Boris Johnson is handing out jobs for life in the unelected House of Lords to friends and those who have done him favours," he said.

"The Prime Minister's idea of levelling up involves gifting his cronies, damaging policy facilitators, and family members with jobs as legislators for life - with no democratic mandate or accountability to people across the UK."

He added: "It's the worst kind of cronyism that only highlights the rotten Westminster system that is detached from reality."

Other names on the list includes Evening Standard owner Evgeny Lebedev, former England cricketer Sir Ian Botham and former DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds.

Former Conservative MPs Philip Hammond and Kenneth Clarke, who both had the party whip removed for opposing Boris Johnson in a crunch Brexit vote, have also been handed peerages, while the last Commons Speaker John Bercow has been snubbed.

Meanwhile, former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson is also set to enter the Lords, but has said she will only take up her seat after the Holyrood elections in March.

A host of former Labour MPs have also been put forward to sit as crossbench peers, including Frank Field, John Woodcock and Ian Austin.

The announcement also revealed that Philip May, husband of Theresa May, is set to be handed a knighthood for "political service" as part of the honours.

But the decision to put forward as many as 36 new peers has drawn anger from the Liberal Democrats following a commitment from then-Prime Minister Theresa May to reduce the size of the second chamber.

Dick Newby, the Lib Dem leader in the House of Lords, said: "Theresa May agreed to limit the number of new Conservative Peers she appointed, but Boris Johnson has ripped up this policy.

"By giving a large number of his cronies peerages, he has shown that the Tories have abandoned any pretence of reducing the size of the bloated House of Lords.

"The Liberal Democrats have long fought to try and get an accountable House of Lords - we must have a properly elected second chamber where individuals are paid a salary, removing any need for outside work to supplement their income."
 
He added: "Even without such fundamental reform, we could reduce the House to a sensible size by implementing the Burns Review. These appointments show that we are still as far away from that as ever."

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