Knighthoods for MPs who caused trouble for Johnson

Knighthoods for MPs who caused trouble for Johnson

Two senior MPs who proved to be thorns in the side of Boris Johnson have been recognised in the first New Year Honours list to be published since the former prime minister left No 10.

Conservative Julian Lewis, chairman of the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), and Labour’s Chris Bryant, who chairs the Commons Standards Committee, both receive knighthoods.

There is also an honour for former permanent secretary at the Treasury Sir Tom Scholar – who was summarily sacked by Liz Truss on her first day in office.

Julian Lewis
Julian Lewis receives a knighthood (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA)

Sir Julian, MP for New Forest East, confounded Mr Johnson’s plans to install former transport secretary Chris Grayling as ISC chairman when he secured the backing of opposition members of the committee to get elected to the post instead.

He was punished for his refusal to toe the party line by having the Conservative whip withdrawn – although it was later restored.

Sir Chris was chairman of the Standards Committee when it recommended that Tory Owen Paterson should be suspended from the Commons for 30 days for breaking the rules on paid lobbying by MPs.

Mr Johnson’s botched attempt re-write the House’s disciplinary procedures in an effort to get the finding overturned infuriated Tory MPs and was widely seen as the start of the difficulties which led to his downfall.

Sir Chris was also a fierce critic of the former prime minister over lockdown parties in Downing Street, subsequently recusing himself from the chairmanship of the Privileges Committee after it launched an inquiry into whether Mr Johnson lied to Parliament.

Sir Chris said he was “very shocked” when he learned he was to be knighted, describing it as an honour for the whole committee.

“I was surprised. I have no idea how this comes about,” he told the PA news agency.

“Everybody told me that that Standards Committee would be a quiet backwater. It hasn’t felt like that. I try, as does the whole committee, to set party allegiance to one side.

“Obviously the Owen Paterson moment threw a massive boulder in the middle of an icy pond, but I hope the new code of conduct we agreed just before Christmas will set Parliament back on the straight and narrow.”

Sir Chris added that he hopes the honour will help highlight work he is doing on acquired brain injury, chairing a national strategy board which is due to report by the summer.

Sir Tom Scholar
Sir Tom Scholar was sacked by Liz Truss (UK Government/PA)

Meanwhile, Sir Tom is made a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath.

His dismissal was widely seen as a sign of Ms Truss and then-chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s impatience with orthodox Treasury economic thinking.

It was also seen as having contributed to the turmoil in financial markets in the wake of Mr Kwarteng’s catastrophic mini-budget which led to the pair’s downfall after less than two months in office.

In other honours, Britain’s ambassadors to Ukraine and Russia, Melinda Simmons and Deborah Bronnert, both receive damehoods.

Cop26 president Alok Sharma is knighted, while Conservative former minister Andrew Stephenson, who was party co-chairman in Mr Johnson’s caretaker cabinet over the summer, is made a CBE.

Home Office permanent secretary Matthew Rycroft receives a knighthood, while former cabinet secretary Lord Sedwill is made a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George.