Theresa May has been accused of ‘rotten’ cronyism after she showered her political inner circle with gongs in her resignation honours list – including a knighthood for her chief Brexit negotiator Olly Robbins.
Mrs May’s list rewards at least 20 former advisers during her three years at Downing Street, including CBEs for her controversial advisers Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill.
The inclusion of Timothy and Hill in particular are likely to prompt anger among Tory MPs, after they were forced to leave their jobs following the calamitous 2017 election, amid accusations of abrasive behaviour with MPs and staff.
The former Prime Minister was keen to draw a line under the cronyism of the David Cameron era, and in a previous speech suggested his decision to give a knighthood to ex-communications guru Craig Oliver left her ‘retching violently.’
But in an apparent volte-face Mrs May handed out gongs to trusted advisers and Tory party financial backers, including a knighthood to her own director of communications Robbie Gibb.
Mrs May’s list rewards at least 20 former advisers during her three years at Downing Street, including CBEs for her controversial advisers Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill
There are CBEs for the former Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis (left) and an CBE for Fiona Hill (right)
She handed peerages to four senior Downing Street advisers, including her chief of staff Gavin Barwell.
Tory Party treasurer Ehud Sheleg, who has donated hundreds of thousands of pounds to Conservative coffers, receives a knighthood, as did former trade minister George Hollingberry.
And David Brownlow, who has donated more than £2million to the Conservatives, has received a peerage.
Ian Lavery, chairman of the Labour Party told The Guardian it came as ‘no surprise that big Tory donors and No 10 cronies are being honoured yet again.’
And Pete Wishart, an SNP MP, accused May of ‘handing out peerages like sweeties to the same Tory advisers who got us into this Brexit mess.’
The knighthood for Sir Olly (pictured in January 2019, at the Cabinet Office) sparked a Eurosceptic Tory backlash
Director of communications Robbie Gibb (pictured above) also received a knighthood
He added: ‘Westminster is not working for Scotland. The House of Lords should have been abolished decades ago and the whole rotten system is in desperate need of reform.’
The most eye-catching award was a long-coveted knighthood for Mrs May’s childhood cricketing hero Geoffrey Boycott, and another for fellow former England cricket captain Andrew Strauss.
But the former prime minister also nominated a string of Tory MPs, former aides, party donors and civil servants for honours and peerages.
The knighthood for Sir Olly sparked a Eurosceptic Tory backlash. The senior civil servant spearheaded talks with the EU throughout Mrs May’s time in Number 10 and became a hate figure for hard-line Brexiteers, who claimed he wasn’t tough enough with Brussels.
George Hollingbery (pictured left) received a knighthood and Gavin Barwell received a peerage
Last night it was announced that Mr Robbins will leave the Civil Service next year and take up a position as a managing director in the investment banking division of Goldman Sachs.
Former European Commission president Jose Manuel Barosso is now president of Goldman Sachs in Europe.
Mrs May’s allies defended Sir Olly’s honour, with one source close to the former PM saying: ‘This list recognises the many different people who have made a significant contribution to public life during Theresa May’s political career.
‘It includes not only political colleagues but members of the civil service, civic society, the NHS and the sporting world.’
But a Tory Brexiteer MP said: ‘I would have thought a Legion d’honneur would have been more appropriate for his services to the European Union.’
Mrs May named 51 people for honours, including 15 former political advisors, nine Tory MPs and MEPs, nine senior civil servants and five Tory party officials.
Mrs May named 51 people for honours, including 15 former political advisors, nine Tory MPs and MEPs, nine senior civil servants and five Tory party officials
Former Tory party chairman Sir Patrick McLoughlin becomes a member of the Companion of Honour. Her de facto deputy David Lidington also receives a KBE.
Mrs May’s former political secretary Stephen Parkinson, and advisers Joanna Penn and Elizabeth Sanderson also become life peers.
There are CBEs for the former Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis, and Mrs May’s official spokesman, former Daily Mail Political Editor James Slack.
Former Tory party Treasurer Ehud Sheleg is knighted, and David Brownlow, former party vice-chairman, gets a peerage.
Avid cricket fan Mrs May has long idolised Sir Geoffrey, 78. Appearing on the BBC’s Test Match Special two years ago, she praised his style with the bat.
Sir Andrew is knighted for services to cricket and for charity work he undertook in honour of his late wife Ruth, who died from cancer last year at 46.
Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn has nominated three new Labour life peers – ex-National Union of Teachers general secretary Christine Blower, Newport City Council leader Debbie Wilcox, and the employment rights lawyer John Hendy QC.
MP John Mann, who announced at the weekend he was quitting Labour to become a government anti-Semitism ‘tsar’, has been nominated for a crossbench peerage.
In other appointments, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick becomes a dame.