‘Great mistake’ to install Boris Johnson portrait at Carlton club, says Conservative historian

Lord Lexen said the Carlton club should have ‘at least waited until the publication of the select committee’s report’ before installing Johnson portrait  (PA)
Lord Lexen said the Carlton club should have ‘at least waited until the publication of the select committee’s report’ before installing Johnson portrait (PA)

A Tory peer and the official historian of the Carlton Club has called it a “great mistake” for Boris Johnson to be honoured with a portrait at the establishment.

The former prime minister on Tuesday unveiled a portrait of himself, in line with the private club’s tradition of commissioning portraits of former Conservative premiers.

But Lord Lexden, who is also the official historian of the Conservatives, used a letter to The Daily Telegraph newspaper to argue that the honour was a mistake.

He wrote: “It is a great mistake to install a portrait of Boris Johnson in the Carlton Club. He is the first Tory prime minister ever to have been driven from office by scandal and personal misconduct.”

Mr Johnson is still due to appear before the Commons Privileges Committee over comments he made to MPs from the despatch box about partygate, insisting that he believed rules were followed in No 10.

Lord Lexden said that such an investigation was one of “great gravity”.

“At the very least, the Carlton should have waited until the publication of the select committee’s report,” he said.

“Portraits of all Tory prime ministers since the Duke of Wellington, the club’s founding father, adorn its walls. In view of the discredit that he brought on the highest political office, Johnson should not have been included among them at this time.”

A source said: “Boris did not pay for the portrait or contribute to it financially. It’s entirely a matter for the Carlton Club.”

The private members’ club in St James’s, London, was the original home of the Conservative Party.