In Brief

Why is Theresa May’s honours list under fire?

Former prime minister accused of ‘cronyism’ after honouring controversial aides

A row has erupted after Theresa May gave honours to the so-called “terrible twins” who were blamed for her disastrous election campaign.

The former prime minister has been accused of “cronyism” after former joint chiefs of staff, Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, were both appointed CBE in her resignation list, even though they were forced to quit after the Conservatives lost their majority at the 2017 election.

The Tories lost 13 seats in the 2017 poll and Ben Howlett, who was MP for Bath until his defeat in that election, said: “For those that lost their seats in 2017, this will go down like a cup of very cold sick.”

The Times says the pair were accused of “rude, abusive, childish behaviour” towards civil servants and MPs and of “strictly controlling” access to the prime minister.

There have also been raised eyebrows over the fact that key figures in May’s failed attempts to negotiate a Brexit deal were honoured. Olly Robbins, the civil servant who led talks with the European Union on behalf of the government, is knighted. Peter Storr, who was May’s European adviser, also receives a knighthood.

Pete Wishart, an SNP MP, accused the former PM of “handing out peerages like sweeties to the same Tory advisers who got us into this Brexit mess”. He described her choices as the “worst kind of cronyism” which “demonstrates everything that is wrong with the broken Westminster system”.

Theresa May once spoke out against such choices for honours, The Guardian says. In 2016, she gave a speech suggesting David Cameron’s decision to award a knighthood to his ex-communications director Craig Oliver made her want to be sick.

She is also under fire for her decision to give the former cricketer Geoffrey Boycott a knighthood. In 2018, she had revealed that Boycott was one of her sporting heroes, saying: “Boycott stuck to it and he got the runs in the end.”

However, the knighthood was criticised by domestic abuse charities because Boycott was convicted in 1998 of beating his then-girlfriend Margaret Moore in a French Riviera hotel. The charity Women’s Aid said the knighthood sent a “dangerous message”.

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