A declassified memo, published by Rishi Sunak‘s Government, exposes how the Prime Minister shot himself in the foot with an overly-clever plan to disprove Boris Johnson’s allegations against him.
Downing Street took the unusual step today of declassifying the list of Mr Johnson’s proposed list of peers that was approved by the House of Lords Appointments Commission (HOLAC).
This was part of an attempt to prove that Mr Sunak did not block the elevation of Nadine Dorries, Alok Sharma or Nigel Adams to the House of Lords.
It is understood that HOLAC was not prepared to approve peerages unless the recipients would agree to join the Lords within six months of being appointed, meaning they would need to stand down as MPs immediately.
But it is understood Ms Dorries, Mr Adams and Mr Sharma were under the illusion they could accept the peerages without standing down as MPs until the next election.
They were reportedly told nothing to the contrary for weeks, with Mr Johnson’s office reportedly trying and failing to get clarification on this for weeks from the Cabinet Office.
Ms Dorries is said to have been told by a minister that the Cabinet Office did not need her to stand down in order to accept the peerage.
While this is thought to have been a purposeful manoeuvre from Mr Sunak’s Government to deflect blame away from his own team, putting it on HOLAC instead, it has monumentally backfired – with the Prime Minister now facing a by-election nightmare.
According to ITV, Ms Dorries is “livid” about the process, while Alok Sharma is said to be “distraught”.
As a result, both Ms Dorries and Mr Adams resigned with immediate effect.
Mr Johnson also resigned with immediate effect after receiving the Privileges Committee’s report into Partygate.
Just minutes after her resignation, Ms Dorries told Talk TV that something “significant” had happened in the five hours before she made the announcement.
Ms Dorries was expected to be awarded a peerage on Mr Johnson’s resignation honours list but was nowhere to be seen. She stood down just hours before the list was published.
The former Culture Secretary had previously insisted that she did not want to trigger a by-election.
Speaking to TalkTV about why she changed her mind, she said: “I can’t reveal everything. something significant did happen to change my mind.
“I’m not going to go blabbing about what happened. I need to process things. Something did do and I think it’s for the best.”
The Cabinet Office has been contacted for comment.