• Sunday, July 14, 2024

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Johnson’s legacy will stand test of time, says Priti Patel

The 58-year-old populist politician has been under investigation by a cross-party committee about whether he repeatedly lied to parliament over Covid lockdown

Priti Patel

By: Eastern Eye

Former home secretary Priti Patel has been rewarded with a damehood as Boris Johnson awarded his political aides and allies with some of Britain’s highest honours to mark his resignation last year as prime minister.

Kulveer Ranger, who served as director of transport when Johnson was the mayor of London, has been elevated to the House of Lords, as was Shaun Bailey, who stood against Sadiq Khan in the 2021 London mayoral race and lost to the Labour politician.

Johnson’s list, published last Friday (9) was long-delayed following his resignation in 2022 and renewed criticism of the system under which outgoing prime ministers can nominate people for lifetime seats in the House of Lords, as well as knighthoods and other awards when they leave office.

Jacob Rees-Mogg and Simon Clarke were among the Conservative politicians awarded knighthoods. Martin Reynolds, a senior civil servant and Johnson’s former principal private secretary, was given an Order of the Bath award for public service.

In May 2020, when Britain had lockdown measures, Reynolds had invited people to the Downing Street garden suggesting they “bring your own booze”. He later boasted to colleagues on social media that staff appeared to have “got away” with the drinks event.

Johnson also gave a peerage to his former chief of staff, Dan Rosenfield, and a Commander of the Order of the British Empire honour to Jack Doyle, his former director of communications, two of his key aides when parties were held in Downing Street during lockdowns.

Labour Party deputy leader Angela Rayner called Johnson’s honours list a “sickening insult”. A Conservative member of parliament, who asked not to be named, said the list was “deeply embarrassing” and showed Johnson’s lack of remorse.

Rumours earlier this year that Johnson’s father Stanley Johnson was in line for a knighthood, to make him “Sir Stanley”, sparked outrage, and fresh claims of cronyism. But Johnson senior’s name was conspicuously left off the list.  The former prime minister also approved honours for Conservative party politicians who have recently been caught in other scandals.

Johnson gave a peerage to Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen, who is facing an investigation over claims of mismanagement at the site of a redevelopment project, which he denies, and a knighthood to Conor Burns, who was fired from the government last year over a misconduct claim, but later cleared by an internal party probe.

Ranger said on Twitter, “I would like to give special thanks to the former prime minister Boris Johnson for this honour.“ “I am proud of what we achieved but now look forward to continuing to champion and improve the things that I am passionate about in the years ahead.”

Patel said, “Boris Johnson has served our country and his constituency with distinction.” “He led world in supporting Ukraine, got Brexit done, and was our most electorally successful prime minister since Margaret Thatcher.

“Boris is a political titan whose legacy will stand the test of time.”  Johnson supported Patel during a damning internal report into her alleged bullying of civil servants while she was home secretary. The highest award was to Bill Cash, who will become a companion of honour, which recognises “a major contribution to the arts, science, medicine or government… over a long period of time”.

Cash, 83, has been a Conservative MP since 1984 and in that time has seen his once fringe view of leaving the European Union become mainstream Tory policy and the key issue in British politics since 2016. He was recognised for “political and public service”.

Long-time parliamentary hairdresser Kelly Dodge was on the list of awards for advisers, speech writers and personal assistants. Absent though, despite fevered speculation, were Johnson’s former culture secretary Nadine Dorries and his UN climate change conference chairman Alok Sharma.  They were tipped to go into the Lords, which would have forced tricky by-elections as they would have had to resign as MPs in the lower House of Commons.

Dorries, however, announced last week she was stepping down with immediate effect. Johnson nominated 45 people in total for awards, which is fewer than other recent prime ministers. Theresa May nominated 57 people when she stood down in 2019, and David Cameron put forward 59 people in 2016. Johnson quit as MP last Friday (9), claiming he had been forced out in a stitch-up by his political opponents.

The 58-year-old populist politician has been under investigation by a cross-party committee about whether he repeatedly lied to parliament over Covid lockdown breaking parties when he was in office. In evidence earlier this year, he insisted he had not.

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