Johnson wanted ‘something I wasn’t prepared to do’ says Sunak over honours row
Rishi Sunak has accused Boris Johnson of asking him to “do something I wasn’t prepared to do”.
It comes amid a row with former prime minister Mr Johnson and his allies, who blame Downing Street for Conservative MPs failing to appear on his resignation honours list on Friday despite them being nominated for the House of Lords.
Appearing at the London Tech Week conference for his first public remarks since his predecessor’s decision to quit as an MP, Mr Sunak said on Monday morning: “Boris Johnson asked me to do something that I wasn’t prepared to do because I didn’t think it was right.”
“That was to either overrule the Holac (House of Lords Appointments Commission) 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.
“When I got this job I said I was going to do things differently because I wanted to change politics and that’s what I’m doing.
“And I’m also keen to make sure that we change how our country works and that’s what I’m here talking about today: making sure that we can grow our economy, that we can maintain our leadership in the innovative industries of the future.”
Former culture secretary Nadine Dorries, ex-minister Nigel Adams and Cop26 president Sir Alok Sharma were reportedly put forward by Mr Johnson for peerages.
Ms Dorries and Mr Adams have resigned as MPs since being omitted, giving Mr Sunak the headache of three separate by-elections, with Mr Johnson also quitting over complaints about a Commons partygate inquiry.
Government figures have insisted that neither Mr Sunak nor Downing Street removed names from Mr Johnson’s peerages submission, with Michael Gove stressing on Monday that the “appropriate procedure” and the correct “precedent” was followed.
The row over the Lords appointments comes as the Privileges Committee is set to meet to conclude its inquiry into whether the former prime minister misled Parliament over No 10 lockdown parties.
MPs have pledged to continue the investigation process despite Mr Johnson’s Commons exit amid accusations of a “witch hunt”.
The panel is set to meet in Westminster on Monday with a view to deciding when to publish its report.
There has been speculation that the seven-person committee, which is chaired by veteran Labour MP Harriet Harman but has a Conservative majority, could release its findings in a matter of days.
Mr Gove said on Monday that any vote on the findings is a “matter for the House of Commons”, as he appeared to distance the Government from any role in the response to the inquiry.
The probe is thought to have ruled that Mr Johnson lied to Parliament when he told MPs Covid rules were followed in Downing Street despite boozy parties taking place while social distancing restrictions were in place.
Reports suggest the panel was set to recommend at least a 10-day suspension, reaching the threshold for a by-election to be potentially triggered in his Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency.
Mr Johnson accused the committee of “bias” and likened it to a “kangaroo court”.
The Privileges Committee, in response, said Mr Johnson “impugned the integrity of the House” with his attack.
While the former Tory Party leader will no longer be affected by a decision to suspend him, given that he has resigned from the green benches, the committee could choose to apply other sanctions.
Former Commons speaker John Bercow was banned last year from being permitted a pass to gain entry to the parliamentary estate after being found guilty of bullying by Westminster’s Independent Expert Panel.
Mr Gove defended the integrity of the committee but refused to rebuke party colleagues during an appearance on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“It is not my job or role to censor or police anyone’s views in a matter of public debate,” he said.
“I have respect for the work that they have done and I think that we need to respect again the integrity of the process and wait until the report is published before then debating its conclusions and the consequences.
“The second thing that I want to say is that I do deprecate the fact that they are now in a position where, as reported, they have to seek or have been granted additional security.”
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.