Boris Johnson rewards allies, and a hairdresser, with honors as critics cry foul

By AP News

Dozens of allies of U.K. ex-Prime Minister Boris Johnson have received honors from King Charles III

Britain Politics Boris Johnson

LONDON (AP) — Several dozen allies of former U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson received honors from King Charles III on Friday, a list that drew cries of cronyism from opponents of the ousted leader.

“Resignation honors,” bestowed by the monarch but chosen by the government, are an established but contentious way for departing leaders to reward loyal lieutenants.

Johnson gave lifetime seats in Parliament’s unelected upper chamber, the House of Lords, to several former advisers, and bestowed knighthoods or damehoods on loyalist lawmakers including former Cabinet ministers Jacob Rees-Mogg and Priti Patel.

Other aides, lawmakers and Conservative Party figures received lesser honors. The list features several staffers implicated in the “partygate” scandal over rule-breaking gatherings in government buildings during the pandemic, including former Johnson aides Martin Reynolds and Shelley Williams-Walker.

Angela Rayner, deputy leader of the opposition Labour Party, said that Johnson had rewarded a “carousel of cronies.”

“Instead of tackling the cost-of-living crisis, the Tories are spending their time doling out rewards for those who tried to cover up rule-breaking and toadied to a disgraced former prime minister," she said.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's office said that, as is customary, the current leader didn't interfere with his predecessor's honors list.

Among the political allies of the tousle-haired Johnson, one name on the list stood out: Kelly Dodge, the long-serving manager of Parliament’s in-house hair salon, was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire.

One name missing from the list is former Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, a stalwart Johnson supporter who had been widely tipped to enter the Lords. She wasn't on the list but announced Friday she was quitting as a lawmaker, effective immediately. There will be a special election to fill her seat in the House of Commons.

Issues of patronage are especially sensitive around Johnson, who left office in September 2022 when scandals over money, ethics and judgment turned Conservative lawmakers against him.

Johnson’s Conservative predecessors Theresa May and David Cameron also handed out honors when they left office in 2019 and 2016, respectively. But Labour prime ministers before them, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, didn't use the procedure.

Johnson, whose career has been a roller coaster of scandals and comebacks, led the Conservatives to a landslide victory in 2019 but was forced out by his own party less than three years later.

Still a lawmaker, he is awaiting the outcome of an investigation by the House of Commons Standards Committee over misleading statements he made to Parliament about a slew of gatherings in government buildings in 2020 and 2021 that breached pandemic lockdown rules.

Police eventually issued 126 fines over the late-night soirees, boozy parties and “wine time Fridays,” including one to Johnson, and the scandal helped hasten the end of his premiership.

The committee is expected to publish its report in the next few weeks. If it concludes that Johnson deliberately lied, he could face suspension from the House of Commons. A suspension of 10 days or more would allow his constituents to petition for a special election to replace Johnson as a member of Parliament.


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