UK Politics

George Osborne tops ex-PM David Cameron's honours list

George Osborne, Shami Chakrabarti, Caroline Spelman, Patrick McLoughlin Image copyright PA, Getty, Conservative Party
Image caption Clockwise from top left: George Osborne, Shami Chakrabarti, Patrick McLoughlin and Caroline Spelman

George Osborne is among 46 former colleagues and allies rewarded in David Cameron's resignation honours list.

The former chancellor has been made a Companion of Honour, while Tory MPs Oliver Letwin and Patrick McLoughlin are among those who have been knighted.

Mr Cameron's ex-spin doctor Craig Oliver and Samantha Cameron's adviser Isabel Spearman are also on the list.

The SNP called the list "a form of personal patronage"; Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said it was "full of cronies".

A row broke out after details of the list were leaked to the Sunday Times, including rewards for No 10 staff, party donors and Remain campaigners.

Guide to the Honours

Thirteen new Conservative peers have also been created, alongside two crossbench peers and there is one Labour nomination for Shami Chakrabarti, former director of civil liberties group Liberty.

Ms Chakrabarti, who recently concluded an inquiry into anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, said she was "honoured to accept [Labour leader] Jeremy Corbyn's challenge and opportunity to help hold the government to account".

But the appointment was criticised by Marie van der Zyl, of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, who said it was "beyond disappointing" she had been offered a peerage by Labour "following her so-called independent inquiry". "The report, which was weak in several areas, now seems to have been rewarded with an honour," Ms van del Zyl said.

Opposition MPs called for reform of the honours system after the list was leaked but Prime Minister Theresa May has said she will not intervene in the resignation honours because that would "set a very bad precedent".

The full list of Mr Cameron's resignation honours was published after mounting criticism that the former prime minister was to reward his political allies.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Samantha Cameron with her adviser, Isabel Spearman (r)

Mr Osborne, chancellor of the exchequer from 2010 to July 2016, has been admitted to the Order of the Companions of Honour - a distinction which is given for service of conspicuous national importance and is limited to 65 people.

Recipients may write the initials CH after their name.

Tory party chairman Mr McLoughlin, who was formerly transport secretary, ex-cabinet minister Oliver Letwin, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon and Craig Oliver, Mr Cameron's former communications director, are knighted. Former environment secretary Caroline Spelman becomes a Dame.

Isabel Spearman, who was employed as a special adviser to Mrs Cameron, has been made an OBE. Thea Rogers, a special adviser to Mr Osborne, has received the same award.

Meanwhile, Will Straw, executive director of the Britain Stronger in Europe group which led the failed EU Remain campaign, becomes a CBE for political and public service.

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Media captionSteve Hilton says : "It's not okay for politicians to appoint people who make laws".

Others to have received honours on the 46-strong list include:

  • Hugo Swire, former Foreign Office and Northern Ireland minister (knighted)
  • John Hayes, transport minister (CBE)
  • Nick Herbert, former Home Office minister (CBE)
  • David Lidington, leader of the House of Commons (CBE)
  • Gavin Williamson, government chief whip and former parliamentary private secretary to David Cameron (CBE)
  • Jane Robertson, constituency manager to George Osborne (MBE)

The new Conservative peerages include Mr Cameron's chief of staff Ed Llewellyn and the head of his Policy Unit, Camilla Cavendish.

The list was criticised by opposition parties. Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said: "David Cameron's resignation honours list is so full of cronies it would embarrass a medieval court. He is not the first prime minister to leave office having rewarded quite so many friends, but he should be the last.

"For the reputation of future leaders, such appointments should be handed over to an independent panel."

The SNP's Tommy Sheppard MP said the list showed Westminster's honours system was "rotten to the core" and there should be a "civil honours procedure that recognises service to the community and outstanding performance in a particular field - neither of which applies to this list".

And Katie Ghose, head of the Electoral Reform Society, said Mr Cameron had "followed the well-trodden route of every other PM and packed the second chamber with former politicians, donors and party hacks. These unelected peers will cost the taxpayer millions over the long term - hardly a fitting goodbye".

Earlier, Mr Cameron's former director of strategy, Steve Hilton, criticised the former prime minister over his resignation honours list.

He said it was "not OK" for politicians to appoint people to the legislature, and that big donors "shouldn't have undue influence over political and policy decisions".

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