Johnson asked me to overrule House of Lords rejections, Sunak says

The Prime Minister claimed his predecessor asked him to 'make promises' to people rejected from entering the House of Lords.

Rishi Sunak: Boris Johnson asked me to overrule House of Lords rejections UK Government

Rishi Sunak has claimed Boris Johnson asked him to “overrule” the vetting body which rejected several of his resignation honours nominations.

The House of Lords Appointments Commission (HOLAC) rejected eight of the former prime minister’s nominations to the chamber.

Sunak said Johnson had approached him to veto the group’s recommendations, or “make promises to people”.

“Boris Johnson asked me to do something that I wasn’t prepared to do because I didn’t think it was right,” the Prime Minister said when asked after a speech at the London Tech Week conference.

“That was to either overrule the HOLAC committee or to make promises to people.

“Now, I wasn’t prepared to do that. I didn’t think it was right and if people don’t like that, then tough.”

Boris Johnson's resignation honours list includes 38 honours and seven peerages.Getty Images

Sunak said he had vowed to “do things differently” when he entered No 10, adding: “And that’s what I’m doing.”

When prime ministers leave office, they are able to nominate people for awards such as knighthood or life peerages.

The names are usually then vetted by HOLAC.

Johnson’s list includes 38 honours and seven peerages.

Key allies, such as Priti Patel and Jacob-Rees Mogg, were rewarded with honours but other names previously tipped for a seat in the House of Lords were absent.

Former culture secretary Nadine Dorries, Sir Alok Sharma and Nigel Adams had expected nominations but did not receive any.

Following the publication of the honours list, Dorries and Adams resigned from parliament with immediate effect.

An unnamed ally of Johnson reportedly accused the Prime Minister of blocking Johnson’s appointments, but Downing Street rejected that.

A spokesperson for the Tory leader said Sunak signed off on the HOLAC’s recommendations.

He said it is “entirely untrue to say that anyone from No 10 attempted to remove or change” the list approved by the body, understood to have been finalised in February.

A spokesperson for the vetting commission confirmed it rejected eight nominees, but would not reveal who they were saying it “does not comment on individuals”.

Johnson had previously overruled the body while in No 10 over the peerage of Tory donor Peter Cruddas.

On Friday, the former prime minister resigned as an MP after being handed a report from the Privileges Committee into whether he misled MPs about lockdown parties in Downing Street.

The Privileges Committee will meet on Monday to finalise and discuss the publication of its report into Johnson, who has dismissed the investigation as a “witch hunt”.

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