August 26, 2019
Boris Johnson will use his first honours list to “rebalance” the House of Lords with a clutch of new Brexiteer peers.
Boris Johnson To Install Brexiteer Peers To ‘Rebalance’ Pro-Remain House Of Lords
It is understood that the prime minister believes the upper house is overwhelmingly dominated by Remainers and wants to stage a symbolic move to reward around half a dozen “unsung Brexit heroes”.
As Jeremy Corbyn prepares to meet opposition leaders on Tuesday to discuss joint ways to halt a no-deal Brexit, the PM and his close allies are keen to tackle the Lords’ even more entrenched stance on the issue.
The move to get Westminster to better reflect public opinion came as No.10 warned that Corbyn and his colleagues that “parliament and politicians don’t get to choose which public votes they respect”.
As part of a peerage nominations list to make the Lords more representative of public opinion, Johnson is expected to appoint around half a dozen new Tory peers with almost all of them Brexiteers.
Several pro-Brexit figures have been “overlooked” for peerages in the past, insiders feel, and Johnson will send a strong signal that he wants change in his first ever nominations list.
The Brexit Party’s Nigel Farage will not feature, but leading pro-Brexit business figures such as Tim Wetherspoon and his former economic adviser Gerard Lyons could be ennobled.
The push for more Brexiteers in the Lords may however spark speculation that Farage could finally get the peerage he is said to crave, if he folds his new party and joins the Conservatives as part of a post-exit healing process to help Johnson.
Westminster is expecting a ‘resignation honours’ list from Theresa May at some point in coming months, but Johnson’s own first list of peerages will also be keenly awaited.
At present, the Lords has an in-built anti-Tory majority thanks to the large number of Liberal Democrat and Labour peers, and many independent crossbenchers are also strong pro-Europeans.
Former diplomats, lawyers, business chiefs and economists in the Lords tend to be overwhelmingly anti-Brexit.A small clutch of peers are avowedly pro-Brexit, with former Tory cabinet ministers Lord Lawson, Lord Lamont, Lord Howard and Lord Forsyth among the minority of vocal Eurosceptics. UKIP has just one peer, Lord Pearson.
A handful of Labour peers are pro-Brexit, including former Tory defector Lord Howarth and Tony Blair’s former parliamentary aide Lord Grocott.
With only a dozen or so new peers likely in each nomination list, and pressure to keep a cap on numbers of Lords, Johnson is aware that it will take time to install more pro-Brexit peers.
But allies believe that the 17 million people who voted Leave in the 2016 EU referendum, with a 52% majority, are not properly reflected in the upper chamber.
The House of Lords played a key role in inflicting defeats on the May government over Brexit policy, from demands for a ‘meaningful vote’ to plans to force ministers to pause before going ahead with a no-deal exit.
Ahead of the Corbyn meeting, a government official said: “The prime minister has been very clear to European leaders in the last week that the idea that Brexit is going to be stopped is incorrect. 
“He thinks European leaders should not be listening to the very wrong messages emerging from some parliamentarians who think they will stop Brexit.”
Government sources also warned that the Commons and Lords would be forced to sit through the night if a late withdrawal agreement was hatched with Brussels - in order to get it through parliament before October 31. “The public would expect parliament to find a way to get this done,” an official said.
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