Sunak says he would not hand honours to relatives in swipe at Johnson

Rishi Sunak said he would not hand honours to family members in a thinly-veiled swipe at Boris Johnson’s reported plans to knight his father.

Mr Johnson, who was forced out of Downing Street last September following a series of scandals, is said to have included Stanley Johnson as one of as many as 100 names put forward for honours.

Asked if prime ministers should honour relatives, Mr Sunak told reporters travelling with him on the Eurostar to Paris on Friday: “For me a big success is remembering to get my dad a card on Fathers’ day, so that is probably about my limit of it.”

UK-France summit
Rishi Sunak talks to travelling media on the way to Paris (Kin Cheung/PA)

Challenged again on the principle, Mr Sunak said: “My dad’s going to get a card on Fathers’ Day and that is about that.”

He added that he would not comment on “speculation” about his predecessor-but-one’s honours list.

Immigration minister Robert Jenrick told BBC Question Time on Thursday that prime ministers should “absolutely not” give honours to family members.

“My personal view is it isn’t sensible for a former prime minister to nominate members of their own family for honours,” the Tory MP said.

Earlier in the week, reports that Stanley Johnson had been included by his son in his honours list had been met with fury by the opposition.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called it “absolutely outrageous” and “ridiculous”.

Mr Johnson faced accusations of cronyism in 2020, after he nominated his brother Jo Johnson for a peerage.

In 2021, senior Tory MP Caroline Nokes and a journalist publicly accused Stanley Johnson, a former MEP, of touching them at Conservative party conferences.

Ms Nokes, chairwoman of the Commons Women and Equalities Committee, accused Stanley Johnson of forcefully smacking her on the backside and making a vulgar comment at the Conservative Party conference in 2003.

Stanley Johnson said after that he had “no recollection” of either incident.

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