Theresa May’s decision to award a Brexiteer a knighthood has been branded a ‘desperate attempt to blunt criticism’ in her Brexit plan.
John Redwood is one of Parliament’s most outspoken Brexiteers.
He was one of the Eurosceptic cabinet ministers branded ‘bastards’ by John Major as he fought to ratify the Maastricht Treaty in 1993, and has continued to fly the anti-EU banner in the Commons ever since.
He is among three MPs awarded knighthoods, alongside Conservative former minister Gary Streeter and Labour’s deputy chief whip Alan Campbell.
Westminster has speculated that Theresa May would use the honours system to lure MPs to back the prime minister’s Brexit plan when it is voted on next month.
Anti-Brexit campaigners said that the move brought to give the award to the MP just days before a crucial Brexit vote was a sign of ‘dishonour on the honours system’.
Layla Moran MP, a Best for Britain champion, said: ‘I cannot see how it is anything but a desperate attempt to blunt criticism of the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal by dangling a knighthood or two in front of MPs. This is all happening just a couple of weeks before the critical Brexit vote.
‘All this does is erode trust in politics. Knights of the Realm are meant to represent the best of being British, not backstabbing Brexit extremists like John Redwood. It just shows how weak Theresa May is that she is seen to be rewarding him for his behaviour.’
However, Redwood so far appears not to have been swayed by the gong, having published a blog days ahead of the announcement titled ‘8 things wrong with the Withdrawal Agreement’.
Former banker Redwood headed the 10 Downing Street policy unit under Margaret Thatcher from 1982-87, where he was deemed a champion of privatisation.
He entered Parliament as MP for Wokingham in 1987 and rose to Cabinet rank in 1993 as Wales secretary, where his most memorable moment came when he attempted to mime the Welsh national anthem despite clearly not knowing the words.
He continually clashed with John Major over Europe, and it came to a head in 1995 when the prime minister called on his critics to ‘put up or shut up’. Redwood resigned to permit a leadership contest.
He stood against the PM but received only 89 votes to Major’s 219. After being defeated in a second leadership contest in 1997, he returned to the Tory frontbenches from 1997-2005 under William Hague and Michael Howard.
He is joined in the Honours by former Tory minister Gary Streeter, who backed Remain in the 2016 referendum, but has already made clear that he supports the prime minister’s deal.