BREXIT HEROES TO BE MADE LORDS
BORIS Johnson is planning to flood the House of Lords with dozens of “Brexit heroes”, it was revealed by Government sources last night.
In an attempt to wipe out the overwhelming proBrussels majority in the upper house and a move aimed at rebalancing the political make-up of Westminster, the Prime Minister wants to reward key figures in the effort to quit the EU with peerages.
He is understood to be particularly keen to ennoble business leaders who bankrolled the successful Vote Leave campaign in the run up to the 2016 EU referendum.
One business figure who has been mentioned as a possible candidate for a peerage is Tim Martin, the founder and boss of the pub chain Wetherspoon, who donated more than £200,000 to the cause and been an outspoken
advocate of Brexit. But allies say the Prime Minister has ruled out a peerage for Nigel Farage – the former Ukip leader who now heads the Brexit Party that is threatening Tory election hopes.
A Government insider yesterday said: “We’re not going anywhere near Farage.”
Mr Johnson’s senior aides are said to be discussing the plan after unelected peers’ repeated attempts to frustrate the Brexit process undermined public trust in Westminster.
A No10 insider said: “There are many unsung heroes of Brexit whose contribution to the country’s decision to leave the EU deserves recognition, and who have more to contribute to the debate about the country’s future.
“The Prime Minister believes we have to address the overwhelming domination of the House of Lords by Remainers who are out of step with millions of ordinary voters.” Mr Johnson is thought to want to fill the Lords with Brexiteers after watching his predecessor Theresa May suffer a string of defeats in the upper house over her EU departure plans.
On some key issues, Mrs May’s Government lost by margins of more than 100 votes.
Senior figures in Mr Johnson’s team believe the issue must be addressed to give the Government more leeway to make radical reforms as the country enters a new era outside the EU.
The Prime Minister’s senior adviser Dominic Cummings – who masterminded the Vote Leave campaign – is pushing for a root-andbranch overhaul of the Civil Service and the wider political system to make the Government more responsive to voters’ concerns.
The Tories currently hold 290 seats in the Lords while Labour have 178 and the Lib Dems have 95, with 183 more belonging to non-party cross benchers. Mr Johnson’s plan is at an early stage but six new Tory peers are expected to join the upper house in the coming months after the Prime Minister recently submitted a list to the Cabinet Office’s Honours Committee.
Former Downing Street advisers Gavin Barwell and Robbie Gibb are both said to be on Mrs May’s resignation honours list.
But Downing Street insiders believe the Prime Minister will create dozens more peers to bolster his support in Parliament if he secures a Commons majority in a snap general election later this year or early in 2020.
Other prominent Vote Leave donors in the running for “Brexit hero” peerages include supermarket billionaire Peter Hargreaves and hedge fund chiefs Sir Michael Hintze and Crispin Odey.
Mr Johnson is also expected to come under pressure to ennoble influential Eurosceptic politicians, such as Tory Euro MP Daniel Hannan and Douglas Carswell, the former Clacton MP who switched from the Tories to Ukip.
The House of Lords has repeatedly frustrated the Government’s Brexit plans ever since the referendum vote to quit the EU in 2016.
Since then, around 20 proBrussels Tory rebels have joined opposition peers to help defeat the Government.
In March 2017, peers amended legislation drafted to give the Prime Minister the power to trigger the Article 50 EU departure process, forcing the Government to give MPs a “meaningful vote” on the final Brexit deal.
They voted by 366 to 268 to pass the amendment – a majority of 98.
In June last year, the Lords voted in favour of a new amendment, devised by Tory MP Dominic Grieve and tabled by Tory peer Viscount Hailsham to force a “meaningful vote” on Brexit even if the Government failed to reach a deal with the EU.
Last March, the Lords passed an amendment to a trade bill calling for the Government to negotiate a customs union with the EU, and in July, the upper house passed an amendment that would ensure Parliament sat in the weeks leading up to the EU’s October 31 departure deadline to try and block a nodeal Brexit.
Leading Eurosceptics have repeatedly called for ministers to address the anti-Brexit bias in the chamber.
AS Brexit gathers pace towards the October 31 deadline, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is putting new wind in its sails. He is planning to create “Brexit heroes” in the House of Lords – offering peerages to Leave advocates so as to rebalance the Upper House’s pro-Remain majority – and to deliver a message to those who have long sought to stall the process of leaving the EU.
It is a bold move that we broadly support. For it has often seemed as if those in the Leave camp have been painted as a marginal fringe, rather than representative of the clear majority of voters in the 2016 referendum. At worst, business leaders and pundits who have advocated pro-Leave positions have been ridiculed.
Quite apart from acknowledging those who have helped bring about this epochal and popular decision, there is also a need to reintroduce trust into British politics.
This cannot be done while the electoral mandate to leave the EU has been ignored, disparaged or frustrated by one of the highest bodies in the land.
Positive... Mr Johnson gives a thumbs up to the press on the final day of the G7 summit in France yesterday
JD Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin
Ukip switch...Douglas Carswell