British PM Boris Johnson hands brother top honour

01 August 2020 - 11:39 By afp
The former House of Commons speaker John Bercow, who repeatedly tried to foil the government's Brexit plans, however, was denied a seat in the upper house.
The former House of Commons speaker John Bercow, who repeatedly tried to foil the government's Brexit plans, however, was denied a seat in the upper house.
Image: JESSICA TAYLOR / UK PARLIAMENT / AFP

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday gave his brother Jo -- a former junior minister who quit over his elder sibling's approach to leaving the European Union -- a top honour with a seat in the upper House of Lords.

Former premier Theresa May's husband Philip will also receive a knighthood "for political service", the government said, as it unveiled a list of 36 nominations.

The former House of Commons speaker John Bercow, who repeatedly tried to foil the government's Brexit plans, however, was denied a seat in the upper house.

He is the first former speaker in over two centuries not to receive the honour.

Other notable new lords include the Russian-born British newspaper owner Evgeny Lebedev and the Brexit-supporting cricketer Ian Botham.

But the nominations drew scorn from Johnson's political foes.

He has displayed "the worst kind of cronyism" by giving jobs for life to "friends and those who have done him favours", opposition Scottish National Party lawmaker Pete Wishart said.

Brexit supporters accused Bercow of creating voting obstacles in the year it took bickering lawmakers to finally ratify Britain's divorce deal with the EU.

A 2018 report also accused Bercow of presiding over a culture in which "bullying, harassment and sexual harassment have been able to thrive" in parliament. He denied the allegations.

But he also enjoyed his fair share of successes.

His bellows of "Order! Order!" during the Brexit saga went viral and made him briefly into an international media star.

Bercow published a "candid" autobiography and joined the lucrative lecture circuit after stepping down in October.

When news that he might not be selected for a peerage was first reported in June, Bercow explained that he "made a lot of enemies" while overseeing the lower house for 10 years.

"I am not going to sit awake at night worrying about it," he told the BBC.

"There are people who have got grievances and agendas of their own who think I just don't fit."

The House of Lords will now comprise more than 800 members because peers are allowed to resign or retire but are otherwise expected to serve for life.

"This list of new peers marks a lost opportunity to reduce numbers in the House of Lords," House of Lords speaker Peter Fowler said.

Fowler's office had recommended cutting the chamber down to 600 members tops.

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