British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Monday slammed former premier Boris Johnson for asking him to overrule a panel vetting his resignation list appointments to the House of Lords, saying it was “something I wasn’t prepared to do”.
The British-Indian leader’s comment at a public function stemmed from a long-running row over Mr. Johnson’s honours list, and specifically the list of people he wanted to award peerages to.
Mr. Johnson’s long-awaited honours list, approved nine months after he resigned as prime minister, included 38 honours and seven peerages. The resignation honours list is a tradition that allows outgoing prime ministers to nominate people for honours.
As a departing prime minister, Mr. Johnson has the right to nominate people for seats in the House of Lords, and for other honours such as knighthoods.
By convention, current prime ministers pass on the list of nominees to the House of Lords Appointments Commission (HOLAC).
The list of new peerages did not include many of the former Conservative party leader’s nominees. Just three hours after its publication, Mr. Johnson stepped down as an MP late on Friday and furiously attacked Mr. Sunak’s agenda.
In his first public response to the row, Mr. Sunak on Monday accused Mr. Johnson of asking him to overrule the House of Lords Appointment Commission and wave through the rejected nominees.
Mr. Sunak said Mr. Johnson asked him to override their recommendations, or “make promises to people”.
But Mr. Sunak said he refused, adding it was “something I wasn’t prepared to do”.
“I wasn’t prepared to do that, I didn’t think that was right. And if people don’t like that, then tough,” he told a tech conference in London.
The intervention marks a new point in an escalating war of words over Mr. Johnson’s controversial resignation honours list, the BBC reported.
When Mr. Johnson, 58, resigned from office last September, he left a list of nominations for Damehood, Knighthoods etc, as well as people he wanted to award seats in the House of Lords, the lower house of the U.K.’s Parliament.
The government customarily submitted the list to the House of Lords Appointment Commission.
It was reported that three sitting MPs, Nadine Dorries, Nigel Adams and Alok Sharma, were on the list, along with some potentially controversial people.
No serving MPs were given peerages, avoiding by-elections for the Tories.
Mr. Johnson abruptly resigned as a lawmaker on Friday, claiming he was the “victim of a witch-hunt” after being told by a parliamentary committee that he would be sanctioned for misleading Parliament over lockdown-breaking parties at Downing Street during his premiership.
His decision to resign as a Member of Parliament came as he received a confidential letter from the MP-led Privileges Committee over the crucial matter.