Liz Truss unveils resignation honours list

30 Dec 2023

Ms Truss, who spent 49 days in office, nominated Conservative donor Jon Moynihan and ex-Vote Leave chief Matthew Elliott for seats in the Lords.

Ruth Porter, a former senior Truss aide, is also made a peer.

Outgoing PMs routinely recommend people for honours - but Rishi Sunak had faced calls to block Ms Truss's list.

Her 11 nominations - which largely consist of political supporters and former aides - have been announced at the same time as the New Year Honours list, but Downing Street sources denied this was an attempt to limit coverage of Ms Truss's list.

Willie Sullivan, senior director for campaigns at the Electoral Reform Society, said: "It will feel like an insult to many to see Liz Truss handing out peerages to friends and supporters after her disastrously short stint as prime minister. 

"It looks like the political class dishing out rewards for failure at a time when many people are still suffering the effects from her turbulent premiership."

Other names on what Ms Truss's aides are calling a "modest" list include Tory MP Alec Shelbrooke, a former defence procurement minister who backed her Tory leadership campaign.

The Elmet and Rothwell MP is receiving a knighthood, while Thurrock Tory MP Jackie Doyle-Price, a longstanding friend of Ms Truss who served as a business minister during her brief time in No 10, becomes a dame.

Novelist Shirley Conran - the only non-political figure on the list - also becomes a dame, for services to mathematics education as founder of the charity Maths Anxiety Trust.

'Slap in the face'

Ms Truss, who campaigned to remain in the EU but later became a standard-bearer for the Brexit-supporting Tory right, said: "I am delighted these champions for the conservative causes of freedom, limited government and a proud and sovereign Britain have been suitably honoured."

Ms Truss was forced to stand down as prime minister in October 2022 after her mini-budget sparked economic turmoil.

Labour and the Lib Dems had called on Rishi Sunak to block her resignation honours list.

Labour's shadow Cabinet Office minister Jonathan Ashworth said: "This list is proof positive of Rishi Sunak's weakness and a slap in the face to working people who are paying the price of the Tories crashing the economy. 

"Honours should be for those committed to public service, not rewards for Tory failure."

Deputy Lib Dem leader Daisy Cooper said: "Truss handing out gongs after blowing a hole in the public finances and leaving families reeling from spiralling mortgage costs calls this whole honours system into disrepute."

Downing Street insisted Ms Truss's list had gone through all the usual checks and was released at the same time as the New Year's Honours because it had only just been finalised.

A Downing Street source said: "Every past Labour prime minister has issued a Dissolution or Resignation List - this is a long-standing and ongoing convention - which even pre-dates the creation of the Labour Party.

"The convention is the incumbent prime minister does not block the political peerage proposals of others," which the source said included "dubious" past selections by Labour.

Hannah White, the director of the Institute for Government think tank, said resignation honours brought the wider honours system into disrepute and should be done away with. 

The handing out of peerages was a particular problem, she said, with a person being given a job for life legislating on behalf of the country "on the say so of a single individual".

Special advisers

Among the three new peers on Ms Truss's list is Matthew Elliott, one of the founders of the Taxpayers Alliance, which campaigns for lower taxes. He was chief executive of Vote Leave, the main pro-Brexit campaign during the 2016 EU referendum.

Ruth Porter, who ran Ms Truss' Tory election leadership campaign and briefly served as her deputy chief of staff in No 10, also now has a seat in the Lords.

Jon Moynihan, the former chief executive and chairman of PA Consulting Group who chaired the Vote Leave campaign, is also headed for the Lords' red benches.

The register of MPs' financial interests shows that he donated £50,000 in two separate transactions to Ms Truss's Tory leadership campaign.

Conservative MPs and former ministerial aides Rob Butler and Suzanne Webb have been given CBEs.

Ms Truss has also handed out CBEs to her former Downing Street special advisers Sophie Jarvis and Shabbir Merali - and her South West Norfolk constituency party chairman David Hills gets an MBE.

By Brian Wheeler & Peter Saull, BBC News, 30 December 2023