Dozens of staff, allies and advisers to former British Prime Minister David Cameron received honors from Queen Elizabeth II today a move criticized as cronyism by Cameron’s opponents. The “resignation honours,” bestowed by the monarch but chosen by the government, are an established way for departing leaders to reward loyal lieutenants.
But the number and nature of names on Cameron’s list much of it leaked to a newspaper over the weekend sparked accusations of improper patronage. The list includes knighthoods and lesser honors for 46 people including Cameron’s former spin doctor and his wife’s stylist and appoints 13 new Conservative members of the House of Lords.
Cameron resigned after Britons voted June 23 to leave the European Union, against his advice. The honors list rewarded several people who worked on the losing “remain” campaign, including Will Straw, director of the Britain Stronger in Europe group.
It also included knighthoods for Cameron’s former communications director, Craig Oliver, and for several former Cabinet ministers. Former Treasury chief George Osborne who was fired by Cameron’s successor, Prime Minister Theresa May was made a Companion of Honor, a senior award limited to 65 people “of distinction.”
There were honors for numerous Cameron staffers and aides, including Isabel Spearman, adviser and stylist to spouse Samantha Cameron. Steve Hilton, a former Cameron adviser turned critic, said the honors list was a “serious type of very British corruption.” Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said Cameron’s list “is so full of cronies it would embarrass a medieval court” and called for recipients to be chosen by an independent panel.
This is the first resignation honors list since Prime Minister John Major left office in 1997. The two Labour prime ministers who followed him, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, did not use the practice. All the main political parties nominate members of the House of Lords, and there is one Labour appointee on the list. Shami Chakrabarti, former director of the human rights group Liberty, has been appointed to the House of Lords.