Premium

Theresa May accused of 'rewarding failure' with honours for Brexit aide Olly Robbins and Number 10 staff

Theresa May has rewarded Olly Robbins with a knighthood
Theresa May has rewarded Olly Robbins with a knighthood

Theresa May was last night accused of “rewarding failure” by handing out honours to her chief Brexit negotiator and Downing Street aides.

Mrs May has also been accused of “abusing the system” by issuing a resignation honours list longer than Harold Wilson’s Lavender List.

Olly Robbins, her Europe advisor and chief Brexit negotiator, has been rewarded with a knighthood.

Mr Robbins has been blamed by many Tory MPs for Mrs May’s Brexit deal, which was rejected by Parliament three times. Last night it emerged  Mr Robbins will join Goldman Sachs, the investment bank, as a managing director.

Sir Kim Darroch, the former US ambassador who was forced to step down this summer following leaked diplomatic cables which showed he called Donald Trump “inept”, has been awarded a peerage.

After the leak the US President responded saying he would "no longer deal" with Sir Kim, prompting concerns it could jeopardise the chance of a future trade deal.

Sir Kim Darroch receives a peerage

Mrs May’s former joint chiefs of staff Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, who were forced to quit in the wake of the 2017 general election, have been awarded CBEs.

Meanwhile Gavin Barwell - who succeeded Mr Timothy and Ms Hill - will become a life peer. Knighthoods have also been awarded to David Lidington, Mrs May’s de facto deputy, and Robbie Gibb, Downing Street’s former communications chief.

Jon Trickett, the Shadow Cabinet Office minister said: “This is staff and cronies reaping the rewards of failure - including over Brexit - from a failed Prime Minister.”

Responding to the news Mr Robbins was joining Goldman Sachs as a managing director Mr Trickett said: "The revolving door is in full swing once again."

Meanwhile Nigel Farage, the leader of the Brexit Party, said Mrs May's list represents a “reward for selling our country down the river.”

The honours list also featured Conservative donors Ehud Sheleg, David Brownlow and Rami Ranger. Mr Brownlow  has donated nearly £3million to the party.

Ian Lavery, the Labour Party chairman, said: “It comes as no surprise that big Tory donors and No.10 cronies are being honoured yet again. 

“The Tories only care about looking after their own and will only stand up for the wealthy few who fund them.”

George Hollingbery, a close ally of Mrs May who served as her parliamentary private secretary in both Downing Street and the Home Office - is set to receive a knighthood.

Brandon Lewis, the former Conservative Party chairman, received a CBE, as did Downing Street aides Paul Harrison and Kirsty Buchanan, as well as Mrs May's official spokesman, James Slack.

Charles Walker, the former joint acting chairman of the Conservative backbench 1922 committee , was awarded with a knighthood while Mrs May’s chief whip Julian Smith - who has since been made Northern Ireland Secretary by Boris Johnson - is made a CBE.

Mrs May's former political secretary Stephen Parkinson and special advisers Joanna Penn and Elizabeth Sanderson will also become life peers.

 

Theresa May U-turns on pledge to scale back honours list

Theresa May has U-turned on her promise to scale back the resignation honours, as she handed out more peerages than David Cameron.

Mrs May awarded 19 peerages and 41 other honours - two shy of David Cameron's total.

Two years ago in the 2017 election manifesto, the then Conservative leader pledged: “We will review the honours system to make sure it commands public confidence, rewards genuine public service and that recipients uphold the integrity of the honours bestowed.”

Instead Mrs May awarded her political aides and staff in Downing Street at Chequers as well as her sporting hero Geoffrey Boycott in her resignation honours list.

Mrs May has likened herself to Mr Boycott in the past. Last year she said: “One of my cricket heroes was always Geoffrey Boycott. And what did you know about Geoffrey Boycott? Geoffrey Boycott stuck to it and he got the runs in the end.”

Geoffrey Boycott

Andrew Strauss, the former England cricket captain, and Mr Boycott both received knighthoods for services to sport.

Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, has been appointed a dame while Lady Justice Hallett, the vice president of the Court of Appeal Criminal Division, will a life peer.

Mrs May has also handed out honours to the head chef of Chequers, the Prime Ministers country residence, and the Downing Street housekeeper.

Dr Deborah Milligan, a GP in Swallowfield Medical Practice, was given an OBE and Ian Gallen, endocrinologist at Royal Berkshire Hospital, was awarded a CBE.

John Mann, who announced at the weekend he was quitting the Labour party to become a government anti-Semitism "tsar", has been nominated for a life peerage.

Sir Alastair Graham, the former chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, said: “It really is abuse of the system when they use a resignation honours system to cover everybody from their close allies to all sorts of people who are just doing their jobs.

“I think it is deplorable that retiring prime ministers are allowed to have an honours list on such a scale.

“I am rather surprised that someone of Theresa May’s integrity has fallen into this trap. You think she would have learned from her predecessors’ mistakes, going back to Harold Wilson

Sir Alastair said the House of Lords is a “scandal in its own right which has been long overdue for reform” adding: “It was a failure of herself [Theresa May] and her predecessors that they have never had the courage to get to grips with it.”

Mrs May’s resignation honours list has rewarded 60 people in total. Mr Cameron rewarded 62 people and Gordon Brown’s 2010 dissolution honours list  featured 58 people.

David Cameron's resignation honours list featured 62 people

Sir John Major’s 1997 resignation honours and peerage list included 98 people, which included about 30 peerages proposed by Tony Blair.

A source close to Mrs May said she is a long-serving MP who wanted to reward people she had worked with.

The source said: “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. It also recognises people from all four nations of the United Kingdom.”

Jeremy Corbyn nominated three new Labour life peers - Christine Blower, the ex-National Union of Teachers general secretary, Newport City Council leader Debbie Wilcox, and John Hendy QC, the employment rights lawyer.

Natalie Bennett, the former Green Party leader, has also been nominated for a peerage.