Boris Johnson resignation honours: who is on list including Charlotte Owen - as Sunak faces calls to block it

It’s been reported Johnson asked his nominations to defer their acceptance of peerages to avoid by-elections

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Rishi Sunak is facing calls to stop Boris Johnson’s "conveyor belt of cronies” after he proposed peerages for many Conservative MPs but advised them to wait accepting them to avoid by-elections.

On Tuesday (8 November), Deputy Labour Leader Angela Rayner asked that the Prime Minister reject the "disreputable" and apparently unprecedented demands of his predecessor in Downing Street.

But who has the ex-Prime Minister nominated for peerages, and why is his possible list causing such a stir in Westminster? Here is everything you need to know about it.

Who has Boris Johnson nominated?

Johnson’s resignation honours list is expected to include former culture secretary Nadine Dorries, Cop26 president Alok Sharma, Scottish Secretary Alister Jack, and ex-minister Nigel Adams.

Sources close to Johnson also did not deny a Times report that his former chief of staff Dan Rosenfield, deputy Ben Gascoigne, and aides Ross Kempsell and Charlotte Owen will be given Lords seats.

Shaun Bailey, the former London mayoral candidate who drew criticism for attending a Christmas party during lockdown, is also claimed to be on the former prime minister’s list.

However, it has been reported that they have all agreed to Johnson’s plea to delay taking their seats in the House of Lords in order to avoid potentially dangerous by-elections for Sunak.

Boris Johnson addresses the nation as he announces his resignation outside 10 Downing Street on 7 July 2022 (Photo: Carl Court/Getty Images)Boris Johnson addresses the nation as he announces his resignation outside 10 Downing Street on 7 July 2022 (Photo: Carl Court/Getty Images)
Boris Johnson addresses the nation as he announces his resignation outside 10 Downing Street on 7 July 2022 (Photo: Carl Court/Getty Images)

Why does the ex-PM want his nominations to defer accepting peerages?

It is unclear how the peerages for MPs could be postponed, but it has been suggested that the King would have to sanction the arrangement, a move that appears to be without precedent.

With Tory polling falling, Alister Jack remaining in the Commons would save the Conservatives the battle of maintaining his Dumfries and Galloway seat, which he won by less than 2,000 votes against the SNP in the last general election.

Alok Sharma won his Reading West seat by a little more than 4,000 votes over Labour in 2019, and with the Tories’ polling numbers plummeting, they would be afraid of losing it.

No 10 would not say whether it would be possible for an MP to continue to serve in the Commons after being offered a peerage.

Why is it causing controversy?

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner has said Johnson’s “plot to dodge democracy by trying to reward his MP lackeys with promised jobs for life in the House of Lords yet again puts the Tory Party’s interests before the public’s.”

This underhand attempt to game the system by installing a conveyor belt of cronies and skewing Parliament in the Tories’ favour for decades to come should never see the light of day.

“Rishi Sunak should make it clear in no uncertain terms that he will refuse to do Boris Johnson’s bidding and reject his disreputable demands.”

But Downing Street has indicated Sunak will not be intervening in the matter, citing a “long-standing convention that Prime Ministers do not seek to intervene in former prime ministers’ resignation honours lists.”

The latest resignation honours list has once again led to calls for reform in the House of Lords, with one Cabinet minister saying the House of Lords is ready for reform, "not least" because of its size.

But Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride said that achieving political consensus on any potential changes would be "very difficult" despite his opinion that there are "few" in the House of Commons who would oppose a change.

Downing Street has said that it is "committed" to looking into the Lords’ function, but that additional reform is "not an immediate priority."