The prime minister ignored warnings that giving Goldsmith a peerage would “make an absolute joke of democracy” after he lost his Richmond Park seat to Liberal Democrat Sarah Olney.
He will continue in his job as an environment and development minister. Goldsmith will be unpaid for the ministerial job but that he will be able to claim a day allowance from the Lords.
It comes after Nicky Morgan was given a peerage so she could continue as culture secretary despite announcing in October she was quitting as an MP to spend more time with her family.
Goldsmith is a friend of Johnson and his girlfriend Carrie Symonds, who has also worked as an advisor to the former Richmond Park MP.
Symonds campaigned for Goldsmith’s re-election and said she was “gutted” at his defeat, while Johnson backed the failed and controversial bid of his “good friend” to become London mayor in 2016, when Sadiq Khan was elected.
Make sense of politics. Sign up to the Waugh Zone and get the political day in a nutshell.
Olney told HuffPost UK: “Along with the appointment of Nicky Morgan, we are seeing Boris Johnson now making a mockery of his so called ‘people’s government’.
“It is the first days of parliament returning and already Boris Johnson is rewarding his cronies with peerages and threatening to make a no deal, which will damage our communities and public services, far more likely.”
Willie Sullivan, a senior director at the Electoral Reform Society (ERS), told HuffPost UK: “It now looks like losing your seat is no impediment to calling the shots in our political system.
“The Lords has become an absurd insurance policy for ex-MPs to become legislators for life.
“Why bother with pesky elections when you can just be parachuted in to parliament’s private members’ club?”
“Let’s be clear what this means. The government has given these people the power to decide on our laws for life – even though they lost the confidence of their electorate.
“And they get to claim £305 a day tax free for the privilege. This is no chamber of experts – it’s a retirement home for political cronies. Enough is enough.
“If you vote on our laws, you should be chosen by those affected by those laws and be held accountable for the laws you helped create.
“We are calling for a halt to new appointments in the Lords and for it to be replaced with a fairly-elected chamber that reflects the UK.
“We need to replace this archaic boys club that we have now.
“Thanks to public pressure the government are apparently looking at options for Lords reform.
“But the temptation to keep piling in political pals may prove too great.
“We have to keep up the pressure. This private members’ club has got to go.”
The latest ERS research shows that more than a third of currently eligible peers (36.9%) are former politicians, political staff or activists.
More than a quarter (223 peers, 28.8%) were involved in representative politics - many of them defeated - while 63 (8.1%) were former staffers or activists.