Boris Johnson’s controversial honours list revealed

Four Tory MPs reportedly among ‘close friends, political allies and failed candidates’ picked for peerages by former prime minister

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson is set to appoint up to 20 new life peers to the House of Lords
(Image credit: Charles McQuillan - Pool / Getty Images)

Boris Johnson is set to make honours list history after naming two former loyalists to become the youngest-ever life peers.

According to The Times, ex-advisers Ross Kempsell, 30, and Charlotte Owen, believed to be in her late twenties, are both on the final version of Johnson’s resignation list of nominees for elevation to the Lords. The former prime minister has also listed about 18 other people including four Tory MPs – Nadine Dorries, Nigel Adams, Alister Jack and Alok Sharma – who will “delay taking peerages until the end of this parliament to avoid triggering by-elections”, the paper reported.

The other nominees include former Downing Street chief of staff Dan Rosenfield and former deputy chief of staff Ben Gascoigne. Sources claimed that Paul Dacre was on the final list too, even though the Lords appointments commission last month blocked government plans to hand a peerage to the former Daily Mail editor.

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Johnson has also listed multi-millionaire Carphone Warehouse founder David Ross, who was “forced to quit as a City Hall aide over a shares selling scandal”, said Politico’s London Playbook, “and was listed as having paid for the vacation then-PM Johnson took on the Caribbean island of Mustique that triggered standards questions”. Ross is joined on the list by former Tory London mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey, “who quit a London Assembly committee after he was pictured breaking Covid lockdown rules”, the news site added.

“Consisting as it does of close friends, political allies and failed candidates, the list has already set Twitter alight and sparked a considerable backlash,” wrote Patrick Maguire for The Times’s Red Box. The big question now is whether all of Johnson’s nominees can “go the distance and reach the Lords”, Maguire continued.

Johnson’s request that the four nominated MPs delay taking up their peerages is “a move without constitutional precedent that risks dragging the King into an unseemly row over whether the government can spare itself four by-elections”. And “if Dacre is rejected again”, Rishi Sunak “will face the unenviable choice” of vetoing the Lords appointments commission or “risking the ire of his predecessor”, said Maguire. “What a parting gift.”

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