Boris Johnson loyalists rewarded with peerages

Boris Johnson has appointed 36 new peers to the House of Lords, including several notable Brexit campaigners, two former Tory chancellors, supportive allies from his time in London City Hall, and his former editor.

The list of peerages, granted by the Queen on Friday, also included Evgeny Lebedev, Russian proprietor of the London Evening Standard newspaper and son of a former KGB agent, former cricketer Ian Botham and Ruth Davidson, former head of the Scottish Tory party.

Ken Clarke and Philip Hammond, who were both thrown out of the Conservative party in September for voting against Mr Johnson on Brexit, were readmitted to the party and given peerages that are typically given to former chancellors. Former ministers Patrick McLoughlin, Nick Herbert and Ed Vaizey will also be given positions in the Lords.

Downing Street has long discussed the need to rebalance the upper chamber with more pro-Brexit supporters, with Mr Johnson’s inner circle seeing the House of Lords as full of Remain-supporting peers who attempted to thwart the UK’s exit from the EU.

Claire Fox, who served as a Brexit party MEP, former deputy leader of the Democratic Unionist party Nigel Dodds and Leave supporting Labour MPs Kate Hoey, Frank Field and Gisela Stuart were all appointed to parliament’s upper chamber on Friday.

Several allies of the prime minister were also handed peerages, including Eddie Lister, No 10’s chief strategic adviser; Veronica Wadley, who supported Mr Johnson during his London mayoralty when she edited the Evening Standard; and Charles Moore, a biographer of Margaret Thatcher and Mr Johnson’s editor at the Daily Telegraph.

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Mr Johnson’s brother Jo, a former Conservative minister and Financial Times journalist who left politics last year, was also granted a peerage.

Darren Hughes, chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society, which advocates abolition of the House of Lords, said: “By appointing a host of ex-MPs, party loyalists and his own brother, the PM is inviting total derision. That he can get away with it shows what a private member’s club this house is.”

Norman Fowler, speaker of the House of Lords, also criticised the prime minister for increasing the size of the chamber to more than 830 peers — 200 more than the number of MPs in the House of Commons.

“This list of new Peers marks a lost opportunity to reduce numbers in the House of Lords,” he said. “The big opportunity was for the present government to take forward this movement for reform. I emphasise that this is not a matter of personalities. It is a question of numbers and the abandonment of an established policy to reduce the size of the House.” 

Lord Fowler added: “It is also a vast pity that the list has been announced within the first few days of the summer recess when neither House is sitting, and the government cannot be challenged in parliament.”

Two other former Labour MPs were nominated for peerages: Ian Austin, the former MP for Dudley, and former Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock. Both quit the party after falling out with former leader Jeremy Corbyn over his handling of anti-Semitism.

Former Tory MPs have also been promoted to the House of Lords including James Wharton, the former MP for Stockton South who ran Mr Johnson’s leadership campaign, and Lorraine Fullbrook who served as the MP for South Ribble.

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Some prominent business figures were given peerages, including Helena Morrissey, chief executive of Newton Investment Management and financier and Tory donor Michael Spencer. Minouche Shafik, director of the London School of Economics, will join the Lords as a crossbench peer.

Philip May, husband of the former prime minister Theresa May, was also granted a knighthood by the Queen “for political service”.


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