Who blocked Nadine Dorries, Alok Sharma and Nigel Adam's peerages?

Split image. Left image: Nigel Adams. Centre image: Nadine Dorries. Right image: Alok Sharma.
Nigel Adams, Nadine Dorries and Alok Sharma (Left to right) were not listed among Boris Johnson's peerage nominations. Credit: PA

Downing Street has taken the highly unusual step of declassifying the list of Boris Johnson's proposed peers, which was approved by the House of Lords Appointments Commission (HOLAC).

They did this to "prove" that the PM had not lied to Johnson when telling him he would approve the former prime minister's list, when they met earlier this month - and to reinforce Downing Street's claim that Rishi Sunak had not interfered to prevent Alok Sharma, Nadine Dorries or Nigel Adams receiving peerages.

But it does not add up. The important points are: 1) That this list was sent to the PM in February; and 2) HOLAC was not prepared to create a precedent of approving peerages, unless the recipients would undertake to stand down as MPs and join the Lords within six months of the announcement.

And here is the point. My understanding is that Dorries, Adams and Sharma were all labouring under the illusion they could accept and receive the peerages without standing down as MPs more or less immediately. For weeks no one told them anything to the contrary.

They all thought they could do the more loyal Tory thing of hanging on to the election. I am told Johnson's office tried and failed to get clarification on this for weeks from the Cabinet Office.

Dorries was actually told by a minister she trusts - and on several occasions - that the Cabinet Office did not want her to stand down and there was no need to do so.

Dorries is understandably livid. Sharma is "distraught".

And Adams, like Dorries, has manifested his fury by standing down immediately and doing precisely the opposite of what Sunak would have wanted.

It is profoundly messy. As of this moment, it is not completely clear whether this was a cock up or a conspiracy.

But whichever it was - Sunak's team being too clever by half or too complacent - the outcome for him is precisely the opposite of what he wanted, namely by-elections that are likely to reinforce the unwelcome impression he is not in charge of his own or his party's destiny.

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