Thirty-six new peers including Boris Johnson’s brother, a former Tory treasurer and union firebrand

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Jo Johnson, brother of Boris Johnson who has been given a peerage - Peter Macdiarmid/LNP/ Peter Macdiarmid/LNP
Jo Johnson, brother of Boris Johnson who has been given a peerage – Peter Macdiarmid/LNP/ Peter Macdiarmid/LNP

Boris Johnson’s brother, a former treasurer of the Conservative party and a Labour-backing union firebrand are among dozens of new peers entering the House of Lords.

Jo Johnson, Michael Spencer and Tony Woodley are among 36 new peers in the Dissolution honours and political peerages lists.

Just one third of the new peers are women. Mr Johnson, a Remainer, quit as an MP last year after citing an “unresolvable tension” between loyalty to his brother the Prime Minister, and the national interest, while Mr Woodley, former general secretary of the Unite union, made the list despite saying in 2018 that he was “not seeking nomination to the House of Lords”.

Mr Spencer’s elevation to the Lords came after he was initially blocked from receiving a peerage in 2016 over a £60million fine for his broker ICAP’s involvement in the Libor rate-rigging scandal.  Mr Spencer was never personally implicated in any wrongdoing.

Two journalists who worked with Mr Johnson – ex-Evening Standard editor Veronica Wadley and former Daily Telegraph editor and Margaret Thatcher’s biographer Charles Moore – are made members of the Lords.

Mr Moore will sit as a non-affiliated peer while Ms Wadley will take the Tory whip.

Evegeny Lebedev, owner of the Independent and Evening Standard newspapers and Sir Ed Lister, the PM’s chief of staff, are also made peers. Other new peers include ex England cricketer Sir Ian Botham, former Brexit Party candidate Claire Fox, City financier Dame Helena Morrissey.

The list includes 10 former Tory MPs: Mr Johnson, Sir Henry Bellingham, Ken Clarke, Philip Hammond, Nick Herbert, Mark Lancaster, Sir Patrick McLoughlin, Ed Vaizey, James Wharton and Lorraine Fullbrook.

The Dissolution list also includes a knighthood for Philip May, Theresa May’s husband which means that Mrs May may now need to be addressed as Lady May.

Five Brexit-backing ex-Labour MPs were put forward by Mr Johnson for non-affiliated peerages: Ian Austin, Gisela Stuart, Kate Hoey, Frank Field and John Woodcock. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer put forward two nominations: former Labour MP Katy Clark and union official Brinley Davies. Ruth Davidson, the former Scottish Conservative leader, is also made a peer.

Former Democratic Unionist Party leader Sir Nigel Dodds, who helped support Theresa May’s minority government from 2017 to 2019, is also made a peer.

The separate Political list also included Andrew Sharpe, the chairman of the grassroots National Conservative Convention, Dame Louise Casey, the PM’s rough sleeper adviser, and Dame Minouche Shafik, a former deputy governor of the Bank of England.

Three peers were created after being put forward byformer Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – Mr Woodley, former Labour MP Sue Hayman and academic Prem Sikka.

Mr Corbyn’s recommendations of peerages for former Labour MP Tom Watson, ex-Commons Speaker John Bercow and former Labour official Karie Murphy were blocked earlier this year. However there was no room for former Tory MEP Dan Hannan and City financier Peter Cruddas after their names were blocked by the House of Lords watchdog.

One source said their exclusion by the House of Lords Appointments Commission was a “completely spurious” way to give the PM “a bloody nose”.

Mr Johnson – who is said to be furious about the snub – is understood to have made clear that he will now push for a second list of peers, with the excluded names on it along with other financial backers, in the early Autumn.  

Darren Hughes, chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said the 36 new peers could cost the taxpayer £1.1 million a year if they all submitted regular claims for allowances.

He said: “By appointing a host of ex-MPs, party loyalists and his own brother, the PM is inviting total derision. That he can get away with it shows what a private member’s club this House is.”

He added: “This move is an absolute insult to voters. This is making a mockery of democracy. Today marks a nail in the coffin for the idea that the Lords is some kind of independent chamber of experts.”

Lord Fowler, the Lord Speaker, branded the latest list of nominations for the upper house a “lost opportunity” as it again boosts numbers in the chamber.

The Tory former cabinet member insisted his concerns were not a “matter of personalities”, but that at a size of nearly 830, the Lords would have nearly 200 more members than the 650-seat House of Commons.

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