‘They get anyone they've chummed around with ennobled’: Andrew Marr unpacks the ethics of resignation honours

14 June 2023, 19:05 | Updated: 14 June 2023, 19:14

Marr Mono 14/06

By Emma Soteriou

Andrew Marr asks how it has become customary for a resigning prime minister 'to get anyone they've chummed around with ennobled'.

Opening LBC's Tonight with Andrew Marr on Wednesday, the presenter said: "You might think it a bit tasteless, with so many people in the country facing a mortgage crisis - we discussed it last night - that Prime Minister's Questions was dominated instead by a bust-up about who should get into the Lords.

"But Westminster's always been more interested in Westminster than in us.

"And important points about who should get to make our laws were raised today; and the exchanges were certainly spicy and worth hearing."

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Andrew continued: "But below the partisan anger there is a real issue here.

"One day I'd like to see the House of Lords abolished and replaced by an elected chamber, a senate or something like that. But in the meantime, who should have the life-long right to help shape British laws without being elected?

"There's a strong case for top level retired politicians and civil servants - they've had the experience, they know what they're talking about - well, most of the time.

"I think Parliament would be diminished without people like Ken Clarke, Neil Kinnock, Mervyn King, who was on the show yesterday, Lady Hale from the Supreme Court, Michael Howard, Louise Casey, George Robertson from Nato - I could go on - and all the writers, intellectuals, scientists, doctors, eminent lawyers who don't have a political background.

"But it's become somehow accepted that when a prime minister goes, they have an absolute right to get anyone they've chummed around with ennobled, almost like some grandest-ever office leaving present.

"With so many Prime Ministers leaving so very quickly, the problem suddenly seems quite serious.

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"Why should Hubert Humbert Styvesant, 19, who spent his early career dressed as a banana working for the Daily Star before organising the drinks trolley at Number 10 be ennobled by the King as Lord Wodka of Soho?

"Why should Lettuce Chumleigh Chumleigh Chumleigh, who cleared up so valiantly after certain unfortunate accidents in Downing Street caused by the Prime Minister's dog, enjoy the rest of her long life as Baroness Mayfair, voting on laws you will have to obey?

"And what about all the donors - why should you be sit your ample bottom on the red leather benches for bunging some dosh at a failed politician? Lord Hedge of fund? Baron Wadge of Private Equity? I am barely being sarcastic.

"Rishi Sunak argues that prime ministerial honours lists were by convention allowed through and he had acted properly. And to be fair there were certainly things Johnson wanted him to do he wouldn't.

"Trouble is, the conventions, the old accepted norms, have already been trashed. We are in new territory.

"Meanwhile, Nadine Dorries, who had hoped for a peerage but was scuppered, she says, by two posh boys in Downing Street, still hasn't resigned her seat. What a mess."