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Theresa May hands out honours to architects of her doomed Brexit deal

Labour accuses former prime minister of cronyism as awards go to aides and donors, as well as her cricket hero Geoffrey Boycott

Andrew Woodcock
Political editor
Tuesday 10 September 2019 07:27 BST
'I think not' Theresa May addresses Brexit heckler during farewell speech

Theresa May has taken her revenge on the eurosceptic Tories who forced her out of office by rewarding some of the key architects of her doomed Brexit deal in her resignation honours.

Among those recognised are the former prime minister’s chief Brexit negotiator Olly Robbins, who gets a knighthood despite being blamed by many Tories for striking a deal with Brussels which they claimed reduced the UK to vassal status.

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage branded the award as “a reward for selling Brexit down the river.”

And Ms May faced Labour allegations of cronyism after handing out gongs to Downing Street aides, political allies and Conservative donors.

Biggest names on the list are Ms May’s sporting hero Geoffrey Boycott and the Ashes-winning former English cricket captain Andrew Strauss, who each become knights.

And awards go to some of the Tories’ biggest donors, with a knighthood for art mogul Ehud Sheleg, who gave the party around £3 million during Ms May’s time in office and served as her treasurer, and a peerage for entrepreneur and party vice-chair David Brownlow, who has donated around £3 million personally and through his company Huntswood since 2005.

Her controversial former joint chiefs of staff Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill – who were forced to quit No 10 in the wake of the 2017 general election debacle – are made CBEs.

Former chief whip Julian Smith - who has since been made Northern Ireland Secretary by Boris Johnson - is made a CBE.

Another close ally, former minister George Hollingbery - who served as Mrs May's parliamentary private secretary in both Downing Street and the Home Office - receives a knighthood.

Ms May's former political secretary Stephen Parkinson and special advisers Joanna Penn and Elizabeth Sanderson become life peers .

Speaking shortly after the release of her predecessor’s list, which included a knighthood for his director of communications and an award for wife Samantha’s stylist, Ms May said: “We want an honours system that actually ensure we can recognise when people out there are really contributing to our society and to their communities.”

In other appointments, Sir Kim Darroch is made a life peer just months after being forced out as ambassador to the US by the leak of diplomatic cables containing disobliging comments about Donald Trump. He will sit as a non-party crossbencher.

MP John Mann, who announced at the weekend he was quitting Labour to become a government anti-Semitism “tsar”, has been nominated for for a non-affiliated life peerage.

There are CBEs for the former Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis, No 10 political aides Paul Harrison and Kirsty Buchanan, as well as Ms May's official spokesman, James Slack, who continues in the same role with Mr Johnson.

The joint acting chairman of the Conservative backbench 1922 committee Charles Walker is knighted while ex-party chairman Sir Patrick McLoughlin is upgraded to a Companion of Honour.

Sir Kim Darroch will be made a life peer (PA)

A source close to Theresa May said: “This list recognises the many different people who have made a significant contribution to public life during Theresa May’s political career.

“It includes not only political colleagues but members of the civil service, civic society, the NHS and the sporting world. It also recognises people from all four nations of the United Kingdom.”

Jeremy Corbyn has nominated three new Labour life peers - ex-National Union of Teachers general secretary Christine Blower, Newport City Council leader Debbie Wilcox and the employment rights lawyer John Hendy QC, while the Green Party have nominated former leader Natalie Bennett for a peerage.

In other appointments, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick becomes a dame while Lady Justice Hallett, the vice president of the Court of Appeal Criminal Division becomes a life peer.

Sir Simon Woolley, the founder of operation Black Vote, and Ruth Hunt, the ex-chief executive of Stonewall, are made crossbench life peers.

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