Following the Prime Minister’s accusation that his predecessor asked him to override the vetting committee to expedite his House of Lords nominees, Rishi Sunak has been accused by Boris Johnson of “talking rubbish” and “talking nonsense.”
As Mr. Sunak claimed his old ally had urged him to “do something I wasn’t prepared to do,” the animosity between the outgoing Tory leader and his successor turned into a public slanging war.
“I didn’t think it was right and if people don’t like that, then tough,” Mr Sunak said on Monday in his first comments since Mr Johnson dramatically resigned as an MP.
Mr. Sunak publicly attacked Mr. Johnson, claiming that Mr. Johnson wanted him to disregard the recommendations of the House of Lords Appointments Commission (Holac).
However, the supporters of Mr. Johnson claimed that the man who served as his Chancellor had “secretly blocked” the peerages of former culture secretary Nadine Dorries and other loyalists in his resignation list.
In a statement, the former prime minister said: “Rishi Sunak is talking nonsense.
“To honour these peerages it was not necessary to overrule Holac – but simply to ask them to renew their vetting, which was a mere formality.”
Downing Street’s publication of Mr. Johnson’s resignation honors list on Friday—which omitted the names of some serving MPs, including Sir Alok Sharma, the Cop26 president, and former minister Nigel Adams—led to an intensifying verbal spat.
A few hours later, Mr. Johnson declared that he would resign from his position as an MP as the Privileges Committee, which was looking into whether he lied to Parliament about partygate, was getting ready to recommend a suspension that could lead to a by-election in his Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency if it found that he had broken the law.
Additionally, Mr. Adams and Ms. Dorries announced their resignations from the Commons, forcing the Prime Minister to face three difficult by-elections at a time when his party is trailing in the polls.
On Monday morning, Mr. Sunak alleged that Mr. Johnson urged him to disregard Holac’s advice or make commitments.
“Boris Johnson asked me to do something that I wasn’t prepared to do because I didn’t think it was right,” the Prime Minister said when asked after a speech at the London Tech Week conference.
“That was to either overrule the Holac committee or to make promises to people.
“Now, I wasn’t prepared to do that. I didn’t think it was right and if people don’t like that, then tough.”
There have been rumors that Mr. Johnson and Mr. Sunak came to a “gentleman’s agreement” wherein he would approve the honors list while allowing the MPs to undergo another Holac review later on, sparing them from having to resign immediately.
According to a Downing Street source, Mr. Johnson has been made aware by the Cabinet Office that there is no re-vetting procedure.
The supporters of Mr. Johnson claim that his successor violated the agreement in order to inflame tensions rather than purchase a cessation of hostilities.
An ally told the PA news agency: “Rishi secretly blocked the peerages for Nadine and others.
“He refused to ask for them to undergo basic checks that could have taken only a few weeks or even days.”
It is “entirely untrue to say that anyone from No 10 attempted to remove or change” the list that Holac approved, which was believed to have been finalized in February, according to the official spokesman for the prime minister.
The group, which Mr. Johnson himself overturned when in No. 10 about Peter Cruddas, a Tory contributor, receiving a peerage, has acknowledged it did not endorse eight of the candidates put forth by the former leader.
On Saturday, Downing Street decided to change Mr. Sunak’s authorized names from Holac Chairman Lord Bew’s approved names.
The letter, dated February 5, includes a redacted name of a person who made the “personal decision to withdraw themselves” along with the seven peerages that were revealed on Friday.
The investigation into Mr. Johnson was finalized and discussed during the Privileges Committee meeting on Monday. Mr. Johnson has called the investigation a “witch hunt” and wants the findings to be published.
The investigation is believed to have shown that Mr. Johnson misled to Parliament when he claimed that Covid regulations were observed in Downing Street despite the fact that drinking parties were held there while social distancing laws were in effect.
According to reports, the panel was prepared to recommend at least a 10-day ban, perhaps triggering a by-election in Mr. Johnson’s west London district.
Mr. Johnson compared the committee to a “kangaroo court” and accused it of being biased.
According to the antiquated procedure of being selected to be the Steward and Bailiff of the Chiltern Hundreds or of the Manor of Northstead, the resigned MPs have yet to legally trigger their departure from the Commons.