COVID inquiry: Strip Johnson of allowance and bar him from future honours

The Lib Dems have called on Rishi Sunak to strip Boris Johnson of his £115,000 a year ex-Prime Ministerial allowance and for the disgraced former PM to be barred from receiving future honours or a peerage.

It comes ahead of Johnson’s scheduled appearance at the Covid inquiry next week.

The inquiry has already heard evidence that the response to the pandemic under Johnson’s government was chaotic and filled with a callous disregard for the lives of the elderly. Boris Johnson’s former Chief of Staff, Lord Lister, told the inquiry that the ex-PM said “let the bodies pile high” when presented with the prospect of a circuit breaker lockdown in September 2020.

The Liberal Democrats are putting pressure on Rishi Sunak to strip Johnson of his up to £115,000 a year allowance as a former Prime Minister. The party is also calling on Sunak to rule out giving Johnson an honour or peerage in future honours lists. It comes after Sunak gave a peerage to former Prime Minister David Cameron so he could rejoin the cabinet.

Liberal Democrat Cabinet Office spokesperson, Christine Jardine MP said:

I cannot imagine what it is like for the bereaved families to have to hear every day just how shambolic and callous Boris Johnson’s government was during the pandemic.

Boris Johnson was never fit to be Prime Minister. He should reap no benefits, in money or in honours, for the disgraceful way he behaved in office.

His actions hampered our response to the pandemic and led to so much unnecessary suffering for so many.

The least Rishi Sunak could do is strip Johnson of his six-figure yearly allowance and rule out rewarding him with an honour or peerage for his destructive time in Number 10.

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  • Steve Trevethan 3rd Dec '23 - 8:08am

    Granted that Mr. Johnson performed remarkably poorly, but is the precedent of making pensions subject to post retirement removal/reduction wise for the rest of us wise?

  • Martin Gray 3rd Dec '23 - 8:57am

    Johnson’s a millionaire, & raked it in on the US ‘ lecture tour’ .. Ex pm’s are always in demand from one source or another – willing to pay amounts that most folk can only dream of … Johnson probably couldn’t give a fig about gongs or pensions …
    As for COVID – ultimately the lockdowns will be proven to be infinitely worse than the disease…

  • Steve Trevethan 3rd Dec '23 - 9:35am

    Might our leaders put more time and effort into making our tax set ups clearer and more equitable, thus making them more efficient and less costly to government and regular citizens.

    The richest 1% in the U K pay less tax than the 1% in any European country
    (From “Roaming Charges” in the Counterpunch site of 1/12/23)

  • Peter Martin 3rd Dec '23 - 9:49am

    Did LibDems make a similar call with Margaret Thatcher?

    It’s probably not a good idea IMO.

  • Barry Lofty 3rd Dec '23 - 9:54am

    I for one am really pleased that the Lib Dems are highlighting Johnson and his government’s disgraceful indifference to the plight of the people they were elected to represent, he should not be rewarded for his totally inadequate time in office. Regarding the lockdowns, they were not a pleasant experience but were the only defence available in the timescale that the spread of covid allowed ,if his government had listened to the medical advice earlier many more lives would have been saved!

  • For years, we fought for the awarding (or not) of honours to be taken out of the hands of the PM, and given to an indpendent panel. Now we want it back in the hands of the PM.
    This is just inconsistent knee-jerk populism on our behalf.

  • If government ministers were punished for being inadequate in this way where would it stop? We should be demanding equality before the law however trivial or serious the offence. Self-regulation by parliament is itself inadequate if our citizens are to be protected from unscrupulous legislators.

  • Alex Macfie 4th Dec '23 - 11:42am

    @Peter Martin: We may have disagreed with Margaret Thatcher politically, but her political honesty and integrity were never in doubt. John Major was similar.
    @Steve Trevethan: What Johnson has been found to be guilty of would probably be considered “gross misconduct” in a normal employment setting. Many employers do provide for withholding post-work benefits such as pensions in such cases.

  • There is something which I think should be followed up. What steps were taken in Downing Street to ensure the safety of employees? The Health and Safety at Work Act put a duty on employers to carry out risk assessments. When the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster was being discussed there were calls for prosecution of directors for corporate manslaughter.
    The cabinet could have carried out their duties in this field in two minutes by instructing that this be done, and then another few minutes in giving the monitoring duty to the appropriate senior managers.
    They failed very publicly. It might be said they had some sort of protection as representing the Crown. We should oppose this.
    Schools had to produce their own risk assessments and action plans. They did not have the ready access to expertise that the cabinet had.

  • Andrew Toye 4th Dec '23 - 12:38pm

    In the interests of justice, we should await the outcome of the Covid enquiry and note its recommendations before calling for further sanctions on A B Johnson – he has yet to give his own side of the story. His misleading of Parliament and the breaking of restrictions though are well documented.

  • I’m no fan of Johnson but this is all based on hearsay evidence. It also distracts attention from the fact that whatever his instincts were he gave into the advice and ordered the lockdowns. The inquiry’s task is to decide whether those were the right decisions.

  • Nigel Quinton 6th Dec '23 - 3:43pm

    To all those who are falling for the nonsense that lockdowns did more damage than the 200,000 plus deaths, I suggest you go and read the now substantial literature on the subject.

    The failure to lockdown early in 2020 might possibly have been an acceptable failure – were it not for the clear evidence that Johnson and co just refused to recognise the danger – and Johnson’s failure to attend 5 COBRA meetings is enough to have him locked up for gross negligence. But far far worse was the failure to plan for the second and third waves, and even to encourage them through Eat out to Help Out etc, and these waves killed far more.

    We were unprepared (partly due to Brexit prep), ignored the Cygnus exercise, locked down too late for too long with totally inadequate clarity of policy, wasted billions on corrupt PPE procurement, failed to make use of existing testing in favour of centralised procurement again, totally failed to equip schools (and other public spaces) with adequate ventilation, failed to equip schools for blended learning and then stood down data teams too early in the hope that people would forget about CV19.


  • Nigel Quinton 6th Dec '23 - 3:44pm

    As a vice chair of scrutiny and spokes on public health I saw first hand the incredible work by local government and communities during 2020/21, and the appalling neglect and incompetence of this Tory government. It is appalling that it has taken this long to have the enquiry, and I fear the crimes of Johnson, Williamson, Sunak and Hancock will never get the lengthy prison sentences they deserve.


  • Nigel Quinton 6th Dec '23 - 3:45pm

    As a vice chair of scrutiny and spokes on public health I saw first hand the incredible work by local government and communities during 2020/21, and the appalling neglect and incompetence of this Tory government.

  • Barry Lofty 6th Dec '23 - 4:06pm

    Nigel Quinton thanks for reminding us of the catalogue of errors and self serving mismanagement which was at the heart of the Johnson government from start to finish.

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