Rishi Sunak is under pressure to block a knighthood for Stanley Johnson as part of Boris Johnson’s resignation honours list.
The former prime minister, who was forced out of Downing Street last September following a series of scandals, is believed to have included his father as one of as many as 100 names put forward for honours.
Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, said it would be “outrageous” if the knighthood goes ahead.
He told LBC Radio: “The idea of an ex-prime minister bestowing honours on his dad – for services to what?
“The idea that Boris Johnson is nominating his dad for a knighthood – you only need to say it to realise just how ridiculous it is.
“It’s classic of a man like Johnson. I mean, I think the public will just think this is absolutely outrageous.”
On Monday night, Wendy Chamberlain, the Liberal Democrat chief whip, demanded the Prime Minister step in to prevent the honour going ahead.
She said: “The Conservative Party is rewarding Boris Johnson’s failure, lies and corruption. If future Honours Lists are to have any shred of credibility, Sunak must step in and veto this list.
“Honours should be reserved for those who’ve gone above and beyond to contribute to our country. Boris Johnson’s attempt to bestow that recognition on his father makes a mockery of the whole thing.
“This nepotism from the former prime minister isn’t new, he successfully secured a position in the House of Lords for his brother, now he’s trying to get similar VIP treatment for his father.”
A YouGov poll on Monday found that just four per cent of the public believe Stanley Johnson should be knighted, with 52 per cent saying he should not. The rest did not know.
‘I don’t expect an outpouring of joy’
Rachel Johnson, the former prime minister’s sister, said that the award was speculation, and pointed out that Mr Sunak would have to sign off the list.
She told The News Agents podcast: “I don’t expect there’s going to be a national outpouring of joy, if my father is going to arise as Sir Stanley.
“If my brother hadn’t been prime minister, I think my father could have been in line for some sort of recognition in his own right.
“He’s done much more for the Tory Party and the environment than dozens of people who have been given gongs to at this point.”
She added: “People can draw their own conclusions, please don’t ask me to, as it were, sit in judgment on it. Because it literally is too close. You’re talking about my brother and my father. That is a decision that my brother has made with regards to my father or not.”
Downing Street said Mr Sunak had no plans to change the honours system.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told reporters: “There are longstanding rules that guard the honours process.
“There’s no plans to change those that I’m aware of. It is a matter of fact that outgoing prime ministers are able to nominate people in this way.”
Michelle Donelan, Cabinet minister, said there are “bigger fish to fry” as she played down the row.
The Science Secretary told LBC: “I think at this stage it is just speculation. Obviously, it’s the ex-prime minister’s prerogative to be able to make those types of appointments, but we’ll see if this story is true or not.”
A spokesman for the former premier said: “We don’t comment on honours.” Stanley Johnson also declined to comment.
The former prime minister faced accusations of cronyism in 2020, after he nominated his brother Jo Johnson for a peerage.
In 2021, senior Tory MP Caroline Nokes and a journalist publicly accused Stanley Johnson, a former MEP, of touching them at Conservative party conferences.
Ms Nokes, chairman of the Commons Women and Equalities Committee, accused him of forcefully smacking her on the backside and making a vulgar comment at the Conservative Party conference in 2003.
He said after that he had “no recollection” of either incident.