A major donor to the campaign to keep the UK in the EU is to shun a knighthood that David Cameron was reportedly to hand to him in his controversial resignation honours.
Ian Taylor, chief executive of Vitol, the world’s biggest independent oil trader, tonight slammed “seriously inaccurate comments” as he said he would be writing to Cameron and the new Prime Minister, Theresa May, to say he does “not wish to be considered for an honour at this time”.
Taylor, also a Tory donor, is estimated to have given over £300,000 to the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign.
The leaked honours list sparked a row over cronyism and prompted calls for a complete overhaul of the system. The former PM is pushing to reward personal aides, political donors, and senior figures on the losing Remain campaign.
Tonight, Taylor published a statement saying:
“In recent days, speculation in the media has suggested that I may be recognised in the forthcoming resignation honours list. This has been accompanied by seriously inaccurate comments about the company I lead. In these circumstances, I think it is right I request that my name does not go forward, if indeed I was being considered for an honour.
“Tonight, I am writing both to the outgoing and the current Prime Minister requesting that I would not wish to be considered for an honour at this time. I will, of course, be continuing to participate actively in all the causes that I and my family passionately believe in, notably broadening access to the arts for everyone.”
Labour deputy leader Tom Watson said Cameron’s bid to reward his friends presented the worst of the “old boy’s network”.
The row was sparked by reports that Cameron had recommended knighthoods for four pro-EU cabinet colleagues, Philip Hammond, Michael Fallon, Patrick McLoughlin, and David Lidington.
Cameron also requested a companion of honour award for George Osborne, who was dismissed as chancellor by Prime Minister Theresa May, according to the Sunday Times.
Will Straw, head of the failed official pro-Remain campaign was proposed for a CBE, and more than 20 Downing St staff were recommended for awards, according to the report.
Among those reported to be recommended for OBEs is Isabel Spearman, who helped Samantha Cameron with her diary and outfits for various engagements.
It was also claimed Cameron recommended knighthoods for major Tory donor, Andrew Cook.