Sat, 9 December 2023

Newsletter sign-up

Subscribe now
The House Live All
Press releases

Theresa May in cronyism row as she hands gongs to political allies and Tory donors

3 min read

Theresa May has been plunged into a cronyism row after handing honours to a string of political allies and Conservative donors in her final act as Prime Minister.

Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, who were forced to quit as Mrs May's chiefs of staff after the Conservatives lost their majority at the 2017 general election, have been handed CBEs in her resignation honours list.

In a move guaranteed to infuriate Tory eurosceptics, Olly Robbins - the former PM's top Brussels adviser - is being knighted, alongside ex-Downing Street spin doctor Robbie Gibb and David Lidington, who was Mrs May's de facto deputy.

There are also peerages for Gavin Barwell, who succeeded Mr Timothy and Ms Hill as Number 10 chief of staff, his deputy Joanne Penn, her former political secretary Stephen Parkinson and Liz Sanderson, who was a special adviser to Mrs May in Downing Street and when she was Home Secretary.

Others being rewarded for their work for Mrs May during her three years in office include her official spokesman James Slack, who gets a CBE, while her former press secretary, Paul Harrison, gets an OBE.

Former Tory chairman Brandon Lewis and Julian Smith, who was Mrs May's chief whip, both get CBEs in the honours list.

Conservative treasurer Ehug Sheleg, who has donated more than £3 million to the party, receives a knighthood, while there is a peerage for Tory vice-chair David Brownlow, who has donated nearly £3 million.

Meanwhile, keen cricket fan Mrs May has also knighted former England stars Geoff Boycott and Andrew Strauss.

The awards are particularly controversial as Mrs May had previously said that her predecessor David Cameron's decision to give a knighthood to his former chief spin doctor, Craig Oliver, had made her "wretch".

She had also spoken of her determination to ensure that the honours system should reward hard-working members of the public rather than celebrities and political cronies.

Mrs May said: “I agree that we want an honours system that actually ensures we can recognise when people out there are really contributing to our society and to their communities."

Elsewhere, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has nominated three peers, including left-wing former NUT general secretary Christine Blower.

And John Mann, who announced on Sunday that he is standing down as a Labour MP to become the Government's anti-semitism tsar, will also enter the House of Lords.

Labour chairman Ian Lavery said: "It comes as no surprise that big Tory donors and No10 cronies are being honoured yet again.

"The Tories only care about looking after their own and will only stand up for the wealthy few who fund them."

But a source close to Theresa May said: "This list recognises the many different people who have made a significant contribution to public life during Theresa May’s political career.

"It includes not only political colleagues but members of the civil service, civic society, the NHS and the sporting world. It also recognises people from all four nations of the United Kingdom."

PoliticsHome Newsletters

PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe


Political parties