Johnson rewards close allies and aides linked to partygate in honours list

Boris Johnson has been accused of cronyism after handing out peerages, knighthoods and other gongs to his closest allies, including Jacob Rees-Mogg and Priti Patel, and aides linked to the partygate scandal.

The former prime minister’s long-awaited resignation honours list, released by the Government on Friday afternoon, was branded a “catalogue of cronies” by critics.

Former London mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey and Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen were among seven nominations for peerages.

Conservative Democratic Organisation conference
Jacob Rees-Mogg was put forward for a knighthood (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Those put forward for a knighthood included staunch loyalist Mr Rees-Mogg, former housing secretary Simon Clarke, and MPs Conor Burns and Michael Fabricant.

Former home secretary Ms Patel was nominated for a damehood, along with former ministers Andrea Jenkyns and Amanda Milling.

Mr Johnson also heaped rewards on those who worked in Downing Street at the time of lockdown-busting parties.

Honours for Jack Doyle, who was Mr Johnson’s communications chief when the partygate story broke, and Martin Reynolds, his former principal private secretary who sent the infamous “bring your own booze” email to No 10 staff, are likely to raise eyebrows.

Labour’s Angela Rayner called the list a “sickening insult”.

The deputy leader said: “Instead of tackling the cost-of-living crisis, the Tories are spending their time doling out rewards for those who tried to cover up rule-breaking and toadied to a disgraced former prime minister.

“It’s a sickening insult that those who planned Covid parties and held boozy lockdown bashes while families were unable to mourn loved ones are now set to be handed gongs by Rishi Sunak.”

Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper said: “Boris Johnson has been allowed to hand out gongs to his partygate pals, and Rishi Sunak has just waved it through.

“We’ve gone from the lavender list to the catalogue of cronies.”

Notably absent from the list were former culture secretary Nadine Dorries and Sir Alok Sharma, president of the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow, following reports the Government cut them at the 11th hour to swerve potentially damaging by-elections in their seats.

But Downing Street sought to distance Mr Sunak from the list.

“He had no involvement or input into the approved list,” the Prime Minister’s press secretary said.

An hour before the list dropped, Ms Dorries announced she was standing down as an MP “with immediate effect”, triggering an early election battle in her Mid Bedfordshire constituency.

It remains unclear whether Ms Dorries and Sir Alok will get peerages in the future, but a No 10 source suggested the list is now closed.

Those who were approved for peerages include Benjamin Gascoigne, a former deputy chief of staff to the ex-prime minister, and Ross Kempsell, a former political director of the Conservative Party.

Charlotte Owen, a former adviser to Mr Johnson, will become one of the youngest peers, while Kulveer Singh Ranger, a former director of transport while Boris Johnson was London mayor, and former No 10 chief of staff Dan Rosenfield will also be elevated to the Lords.