Jeremy Corbyn has said sitting politicians should not receive honours, amid a row over David Cameron’s decision to hand out the awards to several close aides.
On Monday, Theresa May said she would not intervene in the official process of approving her predecessor’s resignation honours list because it would “set a very bad precedent”.
Opposition MPs have called for a complete overhaul of the system after it was claimed the former PM is pushing to reward personal aides, political donors, and senior figures on the losing Remain campaign.
Jeremy Corbyn said today that cameron “seems to have a found a lot of mates he wanted to reward”. He added:
“I want to see an honours system that’s fair, that’s open, that’s more democratic and people can nominate to it. I do not believe in honors for politicians who are in office. I think to be on office, to be elected to parliament, to a council or anywhere else, is honor itself.”
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 May, according to the Sunday Times.
Asked if May agreed with the principle of a resignation honours list, the prime minister’s official spokeswoman refused to comment.
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 donors Ian Taylor and Andrew Cook.
Labour deputy leader Tom Watson told the BBC: “Giving knighthoods to MPs in the manner that he proposes to do, giving stylists or special advisers honours to pay political debts undermines the honours system.
“And I think we need to stop that. I think Theresa May has it in her power to block this list and we’re calling on her today to use her power and to do that.”
Labour’s deputy leader also said the decision to award former Blair and Brown advisee Lord Livermore a peerage had also been wrong.
“I would never have given Spencer Livermore a peerage. He was responsible for us losing the election. We were rewarding failure there,” he said.
Labour leadership challenger Owen Smith called for a total revamp of the system in light of the controversy.
“I’m disappointed that the former prime minister should use the system to slap his friends on the back,” Smith said.
Sir Desmond Swayne, a one-time parliamentary aide to Cameron, said the honours were a “relatively light way of paying” off a “debt of support”.