'There are bigger fish to fry': Minister dismisses Boris Johnson nominating his father Stanley for a knighthood

6 March 2023, 06:24 | Updated: 6 March 2023, 08:32

'There are bigger fish to fry': Minister reacts to Boris Johnson's resignation honours

By Will Taylor

There are "bigger fish to fry", a Cabinet minister has said when quizzed about reports that Boris Johnson has put his father Stanley forward for a knighthood as part of his resignation honours list.

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Stanley Johnson is among the names put forward by the former prime minister in a list that can stretch to 100 names.

Nadine Dorries, something of a Boris Johnson loyalist, has also been nominated for a peerage, as has Alok Sharma, the outgoing Cop26 president who previously served as business secretary.

The names will need to be vetted in the Cabinet Office. It is said to be a longer set of names than those put forward by Theresa May, who nominated 60 people, and David Cameron, who named 62.

Speaking to Nick Ferrari at Breakfast on LBC Michelle Donelan, the Science Secretary, said: "I think at this stage it is just speculation.

"Obviously it's the ex-prime minister's prerogative to be able to make those types of appointments, but we'll see if this story is true or not."

Asked if she would have a problem with the appointment, Ms Donelan said: "I think there are bigger fish to fry, to be honest."

Previously, Mr Johnson nominated his brother Jo for a peerage.

Stanley Johnson did not comment on his nomination while a spokesman for Mr Johnson told The Times: "We don't comment on honours."

But the knighthood would not only be controversial because of the familial connection.

Stanley Johnson is in line for a knighthood
Stanley Johnson is in line for a knighthood. Picture: Alamy

Stanley Johnson was accused of touching two women inappropriately in 2021.

Caroline Nokes, the Tory MP who chairs the women and equalities committee, said he smacked her on the bottom at a Conservative Party conference in 2003. Stanley Johnson said he had no recollection of her.

It is understood Ms Dorries has agreed to defer any peerage until the next election, because peers cannot sit in the House of Commons. That in itself would prove controversial.

Rishi Sunak is the only person who can block nominations, with the House of Lords appointments committee taking an advisory role.

Boris Johnson has nominated his father for a knighthood
Boris Johnson has nominated his father for a knighthood. Picture: Alamy

A controversial appointment by Mr Johnson saw him ignore advice not to appoint Peter Cruddas, the Tory party's ex-treasurer.

It comes as Mr Johnson had to fend off more claims about Partygate and take aim at senior civil servant Sue Gray.

She investigated Partygate but his allies have tried to cast doubt on her impartiality now she has been lined up to become Sir Keir Starmer's chief of staff.

He is also positioning himself to lead the resistance against Mr Sunak's Windsor Framework, a deal agreed with the EU to improve the Northern Ireland protocol Mr Johnson negotiated.

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