Boris Johnson’s resignation honours list should be “put through the shredder”, according to an opposition party, following reports Rishi Sunak has accepted his recommendations for peerages.
The Times reported that the Prime Minister is expected to accept Mr Johnson’s long-awaited resignation honours list, with the paper reporting that it could be published in a matter of weeks.
According to a Whitehall source quoted by the newspaper, Mr Sunak is hoping to “clear the decks” by signing off the awards, which are said to have been a source of contention between the two figures.
The Prime Minister, asked about the reports during his trip to the US, said he could not comment on his predecessor’s submission.
Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper accused the Prime Minister of rewarding “failure” by allegedly giving the list the green light.
“The fact that one of the most scandal-ridden prime ministers is now allowed to stuff his cronies in the Lords after a failed premiership tells the British public everything they need to know about this Conservative Party,” she said.
“Boris Johnson caused crisis after crisis in this country — if Rishi Sunak rewards his failure it’s just proof it is one rule for the Conservatives and another for everyone else.
“The buck stops with Sunak — he must ensure that Johnson’s honours list is put through the shredder.”
Mr Sunak remained tight-lipped about whether he had accepted the nominations list, which is said to contain about 50 names, when quizzed in Washington DC on Thursday.
The Prime Minister said: “I can completely understand the interest in this topic.
“All I can say is there is a process that is currently under way. It has not concluded yet and until it does, it would not be right for me to comment any further.”
His rival, Sir Keir Starmer, suggested the Conservative Party leader was having to “appease different bits” of the governing party with his handling of the honours roll.
“Whether it’s Boris Johnson’s WhatsApp messages, Boris Johnson’s peerages, all the Prime Minister is doing is managing his own party instead of running the country,” the Labour leader said during a visit to a steelworks in Scunthorpe.
There are suggestions that the list could spark at least two by-elections for the Conservatives.
Early electoral battles could be held in the seats of former culture secretary Nadine Dorries and Alok Sharma, president of the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow.
Mr Sharma holds a 4,000-vote majority over Labour in his Reading West constituency and a by-election would likely be closely fought by Sir Keir’s party, which is well ahead of the Tories in the polls.
Ms Dorries, who has already announced her plan to quit as the MP for Mid Bedfordshire at the next election, has a majority of more than 24,600 over the main Opposition party.
Scottish Secretary Alister Jack is also reportedly set to be offered a peerage by Mr Johnson.
The Cabinet minister has announced he will stand down at the next national poll but has ruled out triggering a by-election in his Dumfries and Galloway constituency to take up a seat in the House of Lords before then.
Nigel Adams, another close ally of Mr Johnson who also is not planning on standing again, is also said to be keen to avoid a by-election.
Ms Dorries said she has not been told whether she is on Mr Johnson’s honours list.
She has previously said that she thought “staying in place until a general election” would be “absolutely the right thing to do” if she was on his list but recognised there were objections to that stance.
Speaking on her TalkTV programme last month, Ms Dorries said: “Apparently the House of Lords Appointment Committee has said that would be ‘constitutionally improper’.
“They don’t say that would be constitutionally impossible. They say improper.”
Ms Dorries said the committee “need probably to update their processes” due to the UK being in “politically unstable times” after having three No 10 incumbents in a matter of months last year.
Mr Johnson’s spokesman said: “We strictly do not comment on honours.”
Former prime minister Liz Truss, despite being the shortest serving prime minister in modern British political history, has also reportedly submitted a short resignation honours list.