Boris Johnson 'nominates Ken Clarke and Philip Hammond for peerages' after expelling pair from Tory party over Brexit

Prominent Corbyn critics Ian Austin and John Woodcock also to be elevated to Lords by PM

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Thursday 06 February 2020 09:41
Brexit briefing: How long until the end of the transition period?

Boris Johnson has reportedly nominated Ken Clarke and Philip Hammond for peerages despite expelling the pair from the Conservative Party after they rebelled on key Brexit votes.

The former chancellors, who defied No 10 and voted to block the prime minister pushing a no-deal exit from the EU last autumn, both left the House of Commons after decades of service at the December election.

Mr Hammond, who served as foreign secretary and chancellor under David Cameron and Theresa May respectively, often clashed with Mr Johnson and previously said the party was “suffering a convulsion” under his leadership.

Mr Clarke – the chancellor under John Major – has been highly critical of the prime minister’s Brexit plans, and urged him after his decisive general election victory to “stop campaigning and get on with governing”.

According to the BBC, the prime minister is also expected to nominate the former Scottish Tory leader, Ruth Davidson, for a peerage in his dissolution honours list.

Despite being often billed as a potential future leader of the Conservatives, she stepped down from frontline politics last year and also said Mr Johnson was taking a “big risk” by expelling 21 Tory colleagues over Brexit.

And in a move that will infuriate the pro-Corbyn wing of the Labour Party, Mr Johnson will also hand peerages to two of the leader’s most prominent critics – Ian Austin and John Woodcock.

The two former Labour MPs spoke out repeatedly against Mr Corbyn’s leadership and during the December election urged voters to stop him becoming prime minister and return Mr Johnson to Downing Street.

Mr Austin, who is now expected to become a non-aligned peer in the Lords, told the Today programme in the early days of the election campaign: “There’s only two people who are going to be prime minister on 13 December, Jeremy Corbyn or Boris Johnson. And I think Jeremy Corbyn is completely unfit to lead our country.”

Mr Corbyn’s dissolution honours list was leaked last month, detailing plans to his ex-chief-of-staff Karie Murphy and the former speaker, John Bercow, to the House of Lords.

David Leakey, who served as black rod, one of the most senior Commons officials, said that granting Mr Bercow a peerage, however, would be a “scandal that parliament would struggle to live down” over bullying allegations the former speaker denies.

It also comes after the Lords speaker called for a moratorium on the appointment of new peers in order to combat the excessive size of the upper chamber - now one of the largest legislative bodies in the world, surpassed only by China’s National People’s Congress.

“It is both unsustainable and unfair for peers to retire, only to find that they are immediately replaced by a prime minister who appoints more than the number who have departed,” he said.

“The dissolution honours are now all but water under the bridge but, after that, I would advocate an effective moratorium on new appointments until the commission has completed its work.”

Downing Street declined to comment when approached by The Independent.

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