British prime minister Theresa May will not interfere with the official process of approving her predecessor David Cameron’s resignation honours list despite allegations of cronyism, Downing Street has said.
Following a leak of the list, opposition MPs demanded a complete overhaul of the system after it was claimed the former PM is rewarding personal aides, political donors and senior figures on the losing Remain campaign.
Ms May was under pressure to intervene, but a spokeswoman said the new premier would not interfere in decisions of the honours committees, which are independent of No 10.
“It is standard for an outgoing prime minister to submit a resignation list,” the spokeswoman said.
“The names on the list were at the former prime minister’s discretion, and they will now go through all the proper processes and committees.
“It would set a very bad precedent for a new prime minister to interfere in the official processes.”
The row was sparked by reports that Mr Cameron recommended knighthoods for four pro-EU cabinet colleagues — Philip Hammond, Michael Fallon, Patrick McLoughlin and David Lidington.
He requested a Companion of Honour award for George Osborne, who was dismissed as chancellor by Ms May, according to The Sunday Times.
Will Straw, head of the failed pro-Remain campaign, was proposed for a CBE, and more than 20 Downing Street staff were recommended for awards, according to the report.
Among those reported to be recommended for OBEs is Isabel Spearman, who helped Samantha Cameron with her diary and outfits for various engagements.
It was also claimed Mr Cameron recommended knighthoods for major Tory donors Ian Taylor and Andrew Cook.
Labour deputy leader Tom Watson said Mr Cameron’s bid to reward his friends presented the worst of the “old boys’ network”, adding: “That Mr Cameron proposes to reward his friends network on such a huge scale will not only bring the honours system into disrepute, it will undermine the reputation of Theresa May.”
But Conservative former minister Desmond Swayne, said an honours list was a “relatively light way” of paying off “debts of honour”.
Nominations for honours are reviewed by honours committees, which include senior civil servants and people judged to be independent of government.
Each committee has a majority of independent members, with one of them chairing discussions, and reviews nominations for specific activities such as sport or arts and media, according to the government.
A No 10 representative is invited to attend all meetings.
The individual committees feed into the main honours committee, which then produces a list and its decisions go to the prime minister and then the Queen who bestows the honour.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved