On Monday, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak engaged in a public feud with former Prime Minister Boris Johnson over the former leader’s controversial awards to key political associates.
Johnson’s long-awaited political honors list was released on Friday, recognizing Brexit supporters as well as individuals involved in the “Partygate” affair that contributed to his collapse last year.
However, the absence of numerous expected names prompted Johnson’s camp to accuse Sunak and Downing Street of intervening before it was submitted.
Sunak’s spokesman told reporters that it was “entirely untrue” that the prime minister or staff removed names from Johnson’s list before it was handed to a House of Lords vetting committee.
The prime minister himself then lashed out at Johnson, accusing him of asking him to overrule the committee, which rejected eight of his nominations to the unelected upper chamber of parliament.
“Boris Johnson asked me to do something that I wasn’t prepared to do, because I didn’t think it was right,” he said at a tech conference in London.
“That was to either overrule the Holac committee (House of Lords Appointments Commission), or to make promises to people.
“I wasn’t prepared to do that. As I said I didn’t think it was right, and if people don’t like that then tough.”
Johnson hit back in a statement, saying: “Rishi Sunak is talking rubbish.”
His resignation honours list — normally a convention waved through by a prime minister’s successor — has sparked fresh factional in-fighting in the ruling Conservative party.
Sunak has sought to reunite the party, which was riven by ideological disputes over Brexit until Johnson’s landslide 2019 general election win.
Political observers have interpreted the resignations as Johnson’s revenge on Sunak for forcing him out of office last July after “Partygate” and a string of other scandals.
Two Johnson friends who were not rewarded resigned as MPs: his faithful former culture secretary Nadine Dorries and fellow Conservative MP Nigel Adams.
Johnson also resigned, blaming political opponents for a smear campaign against a cross-party inquiry into whether he lied to parliament about the Covid lockdown-breaking parties at Downing Street.
Sunak’s Conservatives will have to battle three by-elections as they lag the main opposition Labour party in the polls and face a general election next year.
Johnson criticized Sunak in his 1,000-word resignation letter on Friday for forsaking the party’s position on matters ranging from Brexit to taxation.