Boris Johnson reignites cronyism row

The former UK PM has included his father in a list of people to receive a knighthood, according to reports

Boris Johnson greets his father Stanley Johnson as he exits the hall with his girlfriend Carrie Symonds following his keynote speech on day four of the 2019 Conservative Party Conference at Manchester Central on October 2, 2019 © Getty Images / Stefan Rousseau – WPA Pool /Getty Images

Former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has “discredited the honors system” according to a political rival after he reportedly included the name of his father, Stanley Johnson, in a list of around 100 potential candidates to receive a knighthood.

A report by UK newspaper The Times on Monday stated that Johnson, who was replaced as Conservative Party leader first by Liz Truss and later Rishi Sunak last year, added his father to an extensive list of knighthood candidates. Outgoing UK prime ministers traditionally submit lists of potential figures to receive the honor when they leave office.

“The idea that Boris Johnson is nominating his dad for a knighthood – you only need to say it to realize how ridiculous it is,” Labour leader Keir Starmer said on Monday on LBC radio. “It’s classic of a man like Johnson. I mean, I think the public will just think this is absolutely outrageous. The idea of an ex-Prime Minister bestowing honors on his dad – for what?” 

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Labour shadow health secretary Wes Streeting told the BBC on Monday that Johnson has “discredited the honors system, discredited the office of prime minister.” 

The reported move by Johnson will likely renew allegations of cronyism against the former PM, which initially emerged after he nominated his brother, Jo, for a peerage in July 2020. He was designated as Baron Johnson of Marylebone in October 2020.

Stanley Johnson is a former Conservative Party politician and also served as a member of the European Parliament. He was alleged by two women in 2021 to have touched them inappropriately, with Johnson saying he had “no recollection” of an alleged incident in 2003 described by one of the accusers, Conservative MP Caroline Nokes.

Neither Boris nor Stanley Johnson have commented on reports of the potential knighthood.

The decision to confirm or deny knighthood recommendations lies with current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. The PM’s office is understood to have expressed concerns about the size of Johnson’s nominations list, as well as some of the names suggested by the former prime minister.

A spokesperson for Sunak said on Monday that reports of Stanley Johnson receiving a knighthood are “speculative”.


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