Johnson wanted ‘something I wasn’t prepared to do’

Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak speaks to the media during London Tech Week. (Photo by Ian Vogler – WPA Pool / Getty Images)

Rishi Sunak laid into his predecessor as prime minister Boris Johnson claiming he “asked me to do something I wasn’t prepared to do” over his peerages list.

Sunak’s first public comments following the row over Johnson’s resignation as an MP and controversy over his peerages list came at the opening of London Tech Week.

Asked whether Johnson had undermined him, Boris’ former Chancellor said: “When it comes to honours, honours and Boris Johnson, [he] asked me to do something that I wasn’t prepared to do, because I didn’t think it was right.

“That was to either overrule the HOLAC [House of Lords appointments] committee or to make promises for people. 

“Now, I wasn’t prepared to do that. As I said, I didn’t think it was right. And if people don’t like that, then tough.”

Peerages row

He added: “When I got this job, I said I was going to do things differently because I wanted to change politics. And that’s what I’m doing.

“And I’m also keen to make sure that we change how our country works and that’s what I’m here talking about today: making sure that we can grow our economy, that we can maintain our leadership in the innovative industries of the future.”

Sunak’s remarks come amid a dispute with the former prime minister and his allies, who blame Downing Street for Conservative MPs failing to appear on his resignation honours list on Friday despite them being nominated for the House of Lords.

Former culture secretary Nadine Dorries, ex-minister Nigel Adams and COP26 president Sir Alok Sharma were reportedly put forward by Johnson for peerages.

Dorries and Adams have since resigned as MPs, giving Sunak the headache of three separate by-elections, with Johnson also quitting over complaints about a partygate inquiry.

Partygate ‘witch hunt’ claims

Government figures insisted neither Sunak nor Downing Street removed names from the list. 

It comes as the Privileges Committee is set to meet to conclude its inquiry into whether Johnson misled Parliament over No 10 lockdown parties, amid accusations of a “witch hunt”.

The panel is set to meet today to decide when to publish a report. The seven-person, Tory majority committee, led by Labour MP Harriet Harman, could release its findings within days.

The probe is thought to have ruled Johnson lied to Parliament when he told MPs Covid rules were followed in Downing Street despite boozy parties while restrictions were in place.

Reports suggest the panel was set to recommend at least a 10-day suspension, above the threshold for a by-election to be potentially triggered in his Uxbridge and South Ruislip seat.