David Cameron has blamed the row over the demotion of the new Leader of the House of Lords on the need to keep William Hague in the Cabinet, a former Tory minister has said.
The decision not to give Baroness Stowell full Cabinet ranking, unlike her male predecessor, has provoked fury in the Lords. It is regarded as the Prime Minister’s worst mistake in this month’s reshuffle.
Lord Cope, a former Paymaster General, revealed the reason behind the move: the need to preserve Mr Hague’s status when he moved from Foreign Secretary to Leader of the Commons.
He told peers he had visited Downing Street last week to “ensure the Prime Minister understood the outrage” in the Lords over the downgrading of Lady Stowell’s position.
Lord Cope said: “[Mr Cameron] explained the decision on her status arose from the fact the Leader of the Commons had not recently been a full member of the Cabinet, but as that is now William Hague, who is also First Secretary of State, it was impossible to demote him.”
The Lords voted overwhelmingly on Monday night to rebuke Mr Cameron over the demotion decision. They backed a motion proposed by former Commons speaker Baroness Boothroyd which welcomed her to the post but attacked the Prime Minister for the role’s downgrading.