Sunak To 'Clear The Decks' By Nodding Through Johnson Resignation Honours List

Accepting the peerages could lead to crunch by-elections – including for Nadine Dorries' seat as Tory MP is slated to sit in the House of Lords.
Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak in 2020.
Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak in 2020.
NurPhoto via Getty Images

Rishi Sunak is expected to accept Boris Johnson’s long-awaited resignation honours list in a move that could prompt crunch by-elections when Labour are well ahead of the Tories in the polls.

The Times newspaper reported that official confirmation of who will receive peerages and sit in the House of Lords could be published in a matter of weeks, with the current prime minister hoping to “clear the decks”.

The move comes amid acrimony between Sunak and Johnson over the Covid-19 public inquiry and whether the former-PM’s unredacted WhatsApp messages during the pandemic should be handed over.

Also, according to The Times, it could prompt by-elections for seats held by former cabinet ministers Nadine Dorries and Alok Sharma, who have long been thought to be on the 50-strong list.

Two other former ministers – Nigel Adams and Alister Jack – are also expected to be enobled, but will stay on as MPs until the end of this parliament.

“We strictly do not comment on honours,” Johnson’s spokesman said.

A poll this week showed the Labour Party is on track to win a 140-seat majority at the next election.

The bombshell MRP analysis suggests Keir Starmer is heading for 10 Downing Street on the back of a landslide victory in 2024.

Former prime minister Boris Johnson and wife Carrie.
Former prime minister Boris Johnson and wife Carrie.
Kirsty O'Connor via PA Wire/PA Images

Meanwhile, Johnson and his wife Carrie hosted a close friend at Chequers in May 2021 for an overnight stay while some Covid-19 restrictions were still in place, according to reports.

A spokesman for the former prime minister said that the visit was “entirely lawful”, after The Guardian newspaper reported that events organiser Dixie Maloney stayed at the grace and favour country residence on May 7 2021.

At that stage, indoor mixing between different households was not permitted.

Exceptions to this included gatherings “reasonably necessary” for work purposes and childcare. The Guardian cited sources suggesting that Maloney was permitted to be there for childcare reasons given Symonds was pregnant.

Under the rules at the time, a gathering could be seen as reasonably necessary “to provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person” – a definition that under the legislation included anyone pregnant.

A spokesman for the former prime minister said: “This was entirely lawful, and it was covered by relevant provisions in the Covid regulations, as The Guardian’s report makes clear.

“To suggest otherwise is totally untrue.”

There had been some speculation that Maloney was involved in some of the planning behind the couple’s wedding.

A decision last month to pass to the police concerns over events in Chequers and Downing Street, following a review of the former prime minister’s official diary, led to renewed questions for Johnson and the ministers.

Entries in the former prime minister’s official diary reportedly revealed visits by friends to Chequers during the pandemic and new allegations about his behaviour in Downing Street.

Cabinet Office officials passed concerns to the Metropolitan Police and Thames Valley Police after the new information came to light during a review by taxpayer-funded lawyers ahead of the Covid public inquiry.

Johnson, who believes he is the victim of a stitch-up, ditched the government-appointed lawyers representing him in the Covid inquiry after the referral.

It came as he awaits the verdict of the Commons privileges committee, which is conducting an inquiry into whether Johnson lied to parliament about the partygate scandal.


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