A spate of knighthoods and damehoods handed to sitting Conservative MPs has sparked a fresh cronyism crisis for the government.
According to analysis, there has been an alarming increase in the number of gongs going to serving parliamentarians since the Tories came to power in 2010, with the overwhelming majority going to MPs within their own party.
Sixty-four Tory MPs have received honours since the party came to power in 2010, while 26 were handed to Labour, five to the Liberal Democrats and one to the Democratic Unionist Party.
It marks a huge increase on the last Labour Government, when only 11 sitting MPs were given such honours between 1997 and 2010.
Former Education Secretary Gavin Williamson was handed a knighthood by Boris Johnson despite presiding over exam chaos during the pandemic. The ex-Prime Minister’s resignation honours list also included a string of honours for his pals.
Tory MPs Jacob Rees-Mogg, Simon Clarke, Conor Burns and Michael Fabricant were handed knighthoods, while ex-Home Secretary Priti Patel, Amanda Milling and Andrea Jenkyns were made dames.
Liz Truss’s resignation honours list has not yet been published following her 49-day stint in No10, but more sitting MPs are expected to be on it when it does get revealed.
The findings, first reported by the Sunday Telegraph, triggered claims that the honours system is being used to try to win support from rebellious MPs.
Ex-Standards Chief Sir Alistair Graham told the paper: “A lot of it, you suspect, is because of divisions in the Conservative Party.
“If you’re looking to get an MP on your side in any particular argument or for a particular sensitive vote, a hint from the Whips’ Office that an honour might be coming your way might influence your judgement. It’s rather depressing if the honours system is being used as a political tool to get a majority in the House of Commons.”
Shadow Commons Leader Lucy Powell said the figures show “the Tories’ cronyism is out of control”.
“Rishi Sunak is too weak to stand up to his predecessor, and block her resignation honours, despite her crashing the economy and causing a mortgage bombshell for families,” she added. “The Government should stop rewarding Tory failure, and focus on tackling the cost of living and growing the economy.”