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  1. ITV Report

Labour calls for fairer system amid ‘Cameron cronies’ honours row

  • Video report by ITV News Deputy Political Editor Chris Ship

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said he wants to see an honours system that is "fair and more democratic", amid a row over David Cameron's reported resignation honours list, which has seen former prime minister accused of "cronyism".

Mr Corbyn said he would be asking Labour's executive to consider the issue in the future, but told reporters questions about Mr Cameron's reported honours choices should be directed at Mr Cameron.

"I do recognise there are people who work incredibly hard in our society in all sorts of different ways," Mr Corbyn said.

"There are people that do great work and they should be honoured and rewarded for it, and so what I want to see is a more democratic form of honouring people."

Theresa May (left) and her predecessor David Cameron. Credit: PA Wire/ITV News

Mr Cameron has recommended knighthoods for party donors, close political aides and losing figures from the pro-EU campaign, according to The Sunday Times.

Despite the uproar over the allegations, Prime Minister Theresa May will not intervene in the official process of approving her predecessor's list because it would "set a very bad precedent", Downing Street said.

A departing prime minister is entitled to draw up a resignation honours list.

Opposition MPs piled the pressure on new Prime Minister Theresa May to completely overhaul the system to stop the "old boys network" being rewarded, while Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called for an end to politicians being honoured.

Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson told ITV News the scale of the list would "shock" the public as the former PM rewarded his wife's stylist and handed out knighthoods "like confetti".

Former business secretary Sir Vince Cable, who received his knighthood from former deputy PM Nick Clegg, told ITV News the "rottenness" of the current system is exposed when titles are awarded to party donors.

Senior Tory MPs are also said to be "very angry" with Mr Cameron's choices.

Mr Cameron's list of 48 is said to have recommended:

  • knighthoods for Philip Hammond, Michael Fallon, Patrick McLoughlin, and David Lidington - all backed Remain
  • a companion of honour award for sacked former chancellor George Osborne
  • a CBE for Will Straw, the head of the failed official pro-Remain campaign
  • an OBE for Isabel Spearman, who is Mr Cameron's wife Samantha's stylist

ITV News Deputy Political Editor Chris Ship said Osborne was set to join a select group of title holders, led by the likes of world-renowned scientist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking.

"It would be a huge personal achievement were George Osborne to join this elite group," he wrote.

"And one wonders what the current members would make of the most recent appointee, should this honours list be approved."

Former Chancellor George Osborne is reportedly on the honours list Credit: PA
Samantha Cameron and personal stylist Isabel Spearman. Credit: PA Wire
Will Straw, the head of the failed Remain campaign, is rewarded. Credit: PA Wire

Labour's Owen Smith, who is challenging Mr Corbyn for leadership of the opposition, called for a total revamp of the system in light of the controversy, accusing Mr Cameron of using the list to "slap his friends on the back".

Outgoing Ukip leader Nigel Farage also tweeted to say there were "too many rewards for failure".

Andy Burnham, the shadow home secretary, said if Mr Cameron's choices were accepted it “will destroy any remaining shred of respect for the honours system”.

Senior Tory MPs have also reacted angrily to Mr Cameron's choices, according to the Daily Telegraph.

A senior minister is quoted by the newspaper as saying that the list would provoke anger among backbench MPs and Leave campaigners.

But Mr Cameron did receive support from two of his former cabinet colleagues.

Anna Soubry and Sir Eric Pickles said he was entitled to reward the staff who had helped him during his six years in Number 10.

Mr Cameron resigned in the wake of the Brexit vote in June.