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Rishi Sunak Says He Would Not Hand Out Honours To Family Members

Rishi Sunak has the power to veto the former PM’s honours list (Alamy)

3 min read

Rishi Sunak has said he would not put forward his own family members for honours, in response to a question about criticism aimed at Boris Johnson for nominating his father for a knighthood.

Stanley Johnson's nomination has been criticised due to allegations of inappropriate touching by two women, as well as allegations of domestic violence in a book by investigative journalist Tom Bower. Johnson said he had "no recollection" of one of the complainants, senior Tory MP Caroline Nokes, and has not commented on the other allegations.

The Prime Minister has the power to veto the former PM’s list, and is under increasing pressure to do so by MPs in his own party.

Speaking to reporters on his trip to Paris on Friday about whether honours should go to family members and if he would ever nominate a family member for one, Sunak said: “For me a big success is remembering to get my dad a card on Father’s Day, so that is probably about my limit of it.”

Asked if that could be taken as a no, he replied “yes”, adding: “My dad’s going to get a card on Fathers’ Day and that is about that.”

More than 200,000 people have signed a petition by the Independent calling for Sunak to block Johnson’s bid to give an honour to his father, but Sunak has refused to say whether he would do so. 

“There is always comment and speculation about honours lists beforehand. I’m not going to comment on speculation,” he said.

“I don’t see these things until I see them so it is hard for me to say any more than that.”

A cabinet colleague and close ally of Sunak said prime ministers should "absolutely not" hand honours to family members.

Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick said: "Is it, as a principle, wise for a prime minister to nominate a member of their own family for an honour? No, absolutely not.

“We'll have to see what ultimately is on this list and what the government chooses to do".

Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, told LBC it would be “outrageous” if the knighthood is given to Stanley Johnson.

“The idea that Boris Johnson is nominating his dad for a knighthood – you only need to say it to realise just how ridiculous it is,” Starmer said.

“It’s classic of a man like Johnson. I mean, I think the public will just think this is absolutely outrageous.”

Johnson has reportedly now had to reduce the number of names on the list, from almost 100 to as few as 50. His original list had considerably more names on it than either of his predecessors Theresa May or David Cameron.

The former prime minister has also nominated editor-in-chief of DMG Media Paul Dacre for a peerage for the second time, according to The Guardian, despite the nomination having previously been rejected by the appointments watchdog.

The bid for Dacre to get a peerage coincides with a legal challenge which is accusing the Mail newspaper group of engaging in illegal reporting tactics while Dacre was editor-in-chief of the tabloid.

Other names on the controversial honours list reportedly include the former culture secretary Nadine Dorries, Scotland secretary Alister Jack, Cop26 president Alok Sharma, Conservative MP Nigel Adams, and David Ross, a prominent Tory donor.

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