The Independent’s Evgeny Lebedev awarded peerage by PM

New House of Lords nominations include Prime Minister’s brother and Brexit backers

The Independent’s largest shareholder Evgeny Lebedev has been made a life peer after being nominated by the prime minister Boris Johnson for his work in the media industry and support for conservation charities.

Former chancellors Kenneth Clarke and Philip Hammond, expelled from the parliamentary Conservative Party by Mr Johnson for rebelling over a no-deal Brexit, were both given life peerages.

The honours list saw Mr Johnson accused of cronyism after ennobling two major Tory donors, Michael Spencer and Aamer Sarfraz, his chief strategic adviser Sir Ed Lister and his own brother.

The peerage for Jo Johnson, who quit his brother’s cabinet because of disagreements over Europe, was part of an effort by the PM to mend bridges with Conservatives who opposed his Brexit stance.

Also ennobled were stalwarts of the anti-EU cause, including former Labour MPs Kate Hoey and Gisela Stuart and ex-Brexit Party MEP Claire Fox.

As expected, the former England cricketer and charity fundraiser Sir Ian Botham becomes a Lord, and there was a knighthood for Philip May, the husband of Mr Johnson’s predecessor as prime minister – though nothing for Theresa May herself.

Mr Lebedev’s award mentions not only his involvement with The Independent, Evening Standard and London Live TV channel, but also his role as patron of the Kenya-based conservation charity Space for Giants, which works to protect elephants.

Over the past decade campaigns at The Independent and Evening Standard have raised £60m in total for various causes. Readers of those titles, which have partnered with the charity, helped raise £500,000 in 2014 to combat the ivory trade. Space for Giants is also a partner in The Independent’s #StopTheWildlifeTrade campaign.

Hoey and Stuart were among five former Labour MPs awarded non-affiliated peerages, also including Frank Field, Ian Austin and John Woodcock, who all departed the party after rows with former leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Mr Corbyn himself secured places in the House of Lords for former union leaders Tony Woodley and Brinley Davies, ex-MPs Katy Clark and Susan Hayman and academic Prem Sikka.

As widely anticipated, his nominations of ex-speaker John Bercow and his former deputy Tom Watson and Labour’s ex-general secretary Jennie Formby did not make it onto the final list after facing objections during vetting.

Others to get nominations include former Conservative leader in Scotland Ruth Davidson, DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds, Charles Moore, the former Daily Telegraph editor and biographer of Margaret Thatcher, and homelessness tsar Louise Casey.

Also receiving life peerages were former Tory MPs Sir Patrick McLoughlin, Ed Vaizey, James Wharton, Sir Henry Bellingham, Nick Herbert, Mark Lancaster and Lorraine Fullbrook, along with the chair of the National Conservative Convention Andrew Sharpe.

The speaker of the House of Lords, Lord Fowler, condemned the decision to swell numbers on the red benches by a further 36 members at a time when efforts are under way to reduce the size of parliament’s upper chamber.

Lord Fowler said the house will “soon be nearly 830 strong”, accusing Mr Johnson of “a massive policy U-turn” after Ms May pledged two years ago to exercise restraint in the appointment of new peers.

Also receiving life peerages were former Tory MPs Sir Patrick McLoughlin, Ed Vaizey, James Wharton, Sir Henry Bellingham, Nick Herbert, Mark Lancaster and Lorraine Fullbrook, along with the chair of the National Conservative Convention Andrew Sharpe.

Businesswoman Helena Morrissey, who has led efforts to get more women into the boardroom, was also made a peer, along with ex-Evening Standard editor Veronica Wadley, LSE director Nemat Shafik, the chair of Urban Design London Daniel Moylan and Neil Mendoza, the provost of Oriel College Oxford, who has been appointed by government to lead the cultural sector’s recovery from coronavirus.

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