Secret proposal put forward by No 10 aide’s consultancy group – to ram through controversial Brexit legislation
La main d'oeuvre et le Démocrates libéraux have attacked the secret proposal – called “Project Homer” – put forward by the consultancy group run by the prime minister’s controversial adviser Lynton Crosby.
Seen by ITV News, it says Mr Johnson would have avoided half of the defeats he has suffered in the House of Lords if the Conservatives had around 40 additional committed peers.
It also proposes improving peers’ loyalty to the government by offering other honours or posts as envoys or advisers – or even dinner at Chequers, the prime minister’s luxury rural retreat.
Labour’s Lords leader Angela Smith condemned appointing “more and more chums”, while Richard Newby, her Lib Dem counterpart, demanded “urgent reform to prevent this ridiculous practice”.
“Any attempt to hand out a swathe of new peerages to Johnson loyalists would show that the soon to be ex-prime minister is desperate to live out the fantasy that his resignation is just ‘business as usual’,” Lord Newby said.
“Boris Johnson should not be able to bung his mates a peerage as a golden goodbye.”
The confidential document is revealed as Mr Johnson is known to be putting together a list of resignation honours to be announced when he leaves Downing Street in September.
His key cabinet ally Nadine Dorries is tipped for a peerage, as is a second ultra-loyal minister Nigel Adams – potentially threatening the next prime minister with tricky by-elections in Mid Bedfordshire and Selby & Ainsty respectively.
But a separate list of “political peerages” is also due within weeks, avec Paul Dacre, l'ancien Courrier quotidien éditeur, and billionaire Tory donor Michael Hintze expected to be ennobled.
The creation of 39 peers at one time would be unprecedented and ignore what is supposed to be a cross-party agreement to slim down the bloated upper house.
The document comes from the C|T group, run by Sir Lynton and whose senior executive David Canzini currently works in No 10 as Mr Johnson’s deputy chief of staff.
ITV News said it raised the alarm over the likely blocking of bills to tear up the Northern Ireland protocol and for a bonfire of retained EU rules, avoiding full parliamentary scrutiny.
It also devised a strategy to counter criticism of the appointments by suggesting peerages for people from the north and midlands, which are under-represented in the Lords.
Un Non 10 le porte-parole a dit: “This is not a government document and does not represent government policy. Unsolicited advice is often received – and disregarded.”
L'indépendant attempted to contact the C|T group. Its spokesperson told ITV News: “The document you refer to was simply an early working copy of a discussion paper prepared for a think tank.
“It was not circulated outside of a small group of individuals and was not prepared for any audience outside of that small group of people, to aid discussion.
The statement described as “incongruous” any suggestion that it would be wrong to make the Lords “more representative” or that peers should “commit fully and actively to their democratic role and have no conflicts which would prevent them from doing so”.