‘Shameless’ Truss gives honours to cronies who backed her disastrous government

The list attracted considerable controversy before it was even published due to the short-lived nature of Liz Truss’s premiership

Joe Middleton
Friday 29 December 2023 22:30 GMT
Liz Truss calls her 49 days as PM a 'setback'

Former prime minister Liz Truss has doled out peerages to the men who played key roles in masterminding Britain’s exit from the European Union.

Ms Truss – who lasted just 49 days in No 10, a period in which she decimated the UK economy – nominated Matthew Elliott, the former chief executive of Vote Leave, and pro-Brexit Tory donor Jon Moynihan to sit in the House of Lords.

Mr Elliott helped found the TaxPayers’ Alliance, a small-state think tank committed to low taxes, while Mr Moynihan donated £20,000 to Ms Truss’s leadership campaign in 2021 and is the former chair of Vote Leave.

Ruth Porter, her former deputy chief of staff at No 10, is also on the list for a peerage, but there is no such honour for Mark Littlewood, the former boss of the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA), who backed Ms Truss’s disastrous mini-Budget.

Ms Truss and her chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s economic plans, which included £45bn of unfunded tax cuts, triggered chaos in the financial markets and steep declines in the pound.

Mr Kwarteng was promptly sacked by Ms Truss just 38 days into the job. She survived just 49 days before being replaced by Rishi Sunak in Downing Street.

Labour branded the honours recommended by Ms Truss “tarnished gongs” that rewarded failed economic policies. The Liberal Democrats described her list as “shameless”.

Campaigners called for urgent reform to the “rotten and out of control” peerage system, and criticised the list, which proposes a new peer in effect for every day-and-a-half Ms Truss was in office.

Former chief executive of the Vote Leave Brexit campaign Matthew Elliott (PA)

As well as the three peerages, Ms Truss nominated eight people to receive honours including MBEs, OBEs and knighthoods.

The list attracted considerable controversy before it was even published due to the short-lived nature of Ms Truss’s premiership, and was pushed out by No 10 at the same time as a slew of separate honours late on Friday afternoon.

Also on the list is the MP for Thurrock, Jacqueline Doyle-Price, who is recommended for a damehood following her service as minister of state for industry – a position she held from September 2022 to October 2022.

Another of Ms Truss’s colleagues, Alec Shelbrooke, the MP for Elmet and Rothwell, is recommended for a knighthood for his political service as minister of state for defence procurement.

Other honours in the list include Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for former special advisers Sophie Ina Jarvis and Shabbir Riyaz Merali, OBEs for Robert Butler, the MP for Aylesbury, and Suzanne Webb, the MP for Stourbridge, and a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for the South West Norfolk Conservative Association chair David Hills.

Novelist Shirley Ida Conran, who is also on the list, donated £5,000 to Ms Truss to support activity in her constituency, according to the public register of interest. Ms Conran will become a dame for her services to mathematics education as founder of the Maths Anxiety Trust.

Tory donor Jon Moynihan (PA)

Since leaving No 10, Ms Truss has continued to defend her free-market economic ideas, despite her disastrous tenure as prime minister having led to chaos in the money markets.

Following the publication of her resignation honours list, she said: “I am delighted these champions for the conservative causes of freedom, limited government and a proud and sovereign Britain have been suitably honoured.”

Deputy Liberal Democrat leader Daisy Cooper MP said: “This shameless move to reward Liz Truss’s car-crash cronies is matched only by Sunak’s weakness in failing to block it.

“Truss handing out gongs after blowing a hole in the public finances and leaving families reeling from spiralling mortgage costs calls this whole honours system into disrepute.

“The honours system should celebrate hard-working people who have achieved great things; sullying this celebration shows just how out of touch this Conservative government really is.”

Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s shadow Cabinet Office minister, said: “This list is proof positive of Rishi Sunak’s weakness, and a slap in the face to working people who are paying the price of the Tories crashing the economy.

Former prime minister Liz Truss and ex-chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng (Reuters)

“Honours should be for those committed to public service, not rewards for Tory failure. Rather than apologise for crashing the economy and driving up mortgage rates, costing families thousands, Rishi Sunak has nodded through these tarnished gongs because he is too weak to lead a Tory party completely out of touch with working people.”

Naomi Smith, chief executive of Best for Britain, said: “The arrogance and incompetence of Liz Truss’s brief stint as prime minister caused unnecessary financial hardship for millions and was a national embarrassment.

“Allowing her to bestow jobs for life to others who have caused serious harm to Britain can only increase mistrust and apathy in politics.”

Willie Sullivan, senior director for campaigns at the Electoral Reform Society, said: “It will feel like an insult to many to see Liz Truss handing out peerages to friends and supporters after her disastrously short stint as prime minister. It looks like the political class dishing out rewards for failure at a time when many people are still suffering the effects from her turbulent premiership.

“Liz Truss’s resignation honours list also adds yet more peers to the House of Lords – which already has around 800 members, making it the second-largest legislative chamber in the world after China’s National People’s Congress.

“This all highlights just how rotten and out of control the current peerage system is, and why it needs urgent reform to prevent it causing any more damage to the public’s trust in politics. It is clear this is not a fit nor proper way to choose who sits in our parliament.

“This is why we need to replace the bloated and unelected Lords with a smaller elected chamber, where the people of this country, not former prime ministers, choose who sits in parliament making the laws we all live under.”

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