Grant Shapps, the energy secretary, has denied any intervention from Rishi Sunak, the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, in Boris Johnson’s resignation honours list. Shapps stated that new challenges have emerged, and Downing Street is under new management. He added that the UK government is currently working on the country’s priorities and facing different challenges. Shapps spoke after Johnson’s resignation as the member of parliament for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, which triggered a by-election in his constituency. The former prime minister resigned after receiving the privileges committee report on whether he lied to MPs over partygate, which he called a “kangaroo court” and a “witch hunt.”
Labour Accuses PM of Losing Control
The publication of Johnson’s resignation honours list came just hours before his resignation, with the names of key allies Nadine Dorries, Sir Alok Sharma, and Nigel Adams absent. The opposition Labour Party accused Johnson of losing control. However, Ms Dorries, the former culture secretary, and Mr Adams, a former minister, both announced they would stand down from their seats, creating a hattrick of by-elections when the polls are already faring poorly for the Tories. Over the weekend, The Sunday Times reported that Johnson believed Sunak had broken a promise to wave through the entire list of honours, which Downing Street has denied. But Shapps insisted that Sunak made no changes to the list “at all.”
Shapps further said that there is a House of Commons appointments commission, or Holac, which looks at all nominations. There is a long-tested protocol in place where former prime ministers put people up for the House of Lords, and the prime minister passes it on. In this particular case, because Number 10 has published the details, Rishi did not change that list at all. The House of Commons commission will have made all of those decisions, and the prime minister has not intervened in any way.
Johnson’s resignation has reopened questions of a fresh civil war in the Conservative Party. A number of his allies criticised the privileges committee, suggesting that Johnson had been “forced out” by “the establishment” and “the blob.” The resignations of Ms Dorries and Mr Adams prompted fears of a rebellion among Johnson’s allies, with his supporters claiming that two more MPs are on “resignation watch.” However, claims by Johnson’s camp that up to six more MPs were poised to quit have failed to materialise so far.
Guto Harri, Johnson’s former communications director, who was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the honours list, denied any elaborate plot to destabilize and topple Rishi Sunak. He said the former prime minister is seizing an opportunity to remove himself from politics and “lick his wounds, but also seize new opportunities.” Harri added that Johnson might stage a political comeback, and we can never write him off.