Sunak denies intervening in Johnson’s honours list amid Tory turmoil

Energy Secretary Grant Shapps has stated that Rishi Sunak did not interfere in Boris Johnson’s honours list, claiming that the world has “moved on” since Johnson’s dramatic departure. Shapps spoke on Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday, emphasising that there are now “different challenges to face” and that Downing Street is “under new management.” He insisted that the government is focused on the country’s priorities.

Johnson’s unexpected decision to resign as MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip on Friday triggered a by-election in his constituency, which Labour sees as a key target. The former prime minister made the announcement after receiving the privileges committee report on whether he lied to MPs over partygate, which he labelled a “kangaroo court” and “witch hunt.” This occurred just hours after his resignation honours list was published, with key allies Nadine Dorries, Sir Alok Sharma, and Nigel Adams missing.

Labour has accused the prime minister of losing control, as Dorries, the former culture secretary, and Adams, a former minister, both announced they would stand down from their seats. This creates a trio of by-elections at a time when polls are not favourable for the Conservatives. Over the weekend, The Sunday Times reported that Johnson believed Sunak had broken a promise to approve the entire list of honours, a claim Downing Street has denied.

Shapps insisted that Sunak made no changes to the list “at all” and that the House of Commons appointments commission, or Holac, examined all nominations. He said, “There is a very long-tested protocol in place where former prime ministers put people up for the House of Lords… and the prime minister who comes in usually passes it on.” He added that the published details from Number 10 show that Sunak did not change the list at all and that the House of Commons commission made all decisions without the prime minister’s intervention.

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Shapps disagreed with Johnson’s claim that the committee’s partygate investigation was a “witch hunt” and an attempt to reverse Brexit. He said, “I think far from wanting to undo [Brexit], I think we’re in a phase now of using the many benefits of having that extra flexibility.” He emphasised the importance of allowing elected committees to conduct their work.

Johnson’s decision to resign has reignited concerns of a new civil war within the Conservative Party, with several of his allies criticising the privileges committee. Former Tory Party chair Sir Jake Berry suggested that Johnson had been “forced out” by the “establishment” and “the blob.” The resignations of Dorries and Adams have raised fears of a rebellion among Johnson’s allies, with his supporters claiming that two more MPs are on “resignation watch.”

Guto Harri, Johnson’s former communications director and a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the honours list, said he did not believe there was a plot to destabilise and topple Rishi Sunak. He suggested that the former prime minister is taking an opportunity to step back from politics and “lick his wounds, but also seize new opportunities.” When asked if he thought Johnson would make a political comeback, he said, “We can never write him off.”

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Jamie Cartwright

Jamie is a keen traveler, writer, and (English) teacher. A few years after finishing school in the East Mids, UK, he went traveling around South America and Asia. Several teaching and writing jobs, he found himself at The Thaiger where he mostly covers international news and events.

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