An ex-Tory aide has said he had to ‘kill’ plans by George Osborne to appoint David Beckham a peerage and make him sports minister.
Then-chancellor Osborne discussed the idea with David Cameron, who was prime minister at the time, on the day of a major Cabinet reshuffle in 2013, the Daily Mail has revealed.
The Mail published the claims after former No 10 communications director Craig Oliver admitted the idea had been touted by a “very senior minister”.
Speaking with What Were You Thinking?‘s Larua Round, Oliver told the podcast host the idea was eventually rejected out of fear Beckham would not be the right fit to defend complicated sports policy.
But after consulting with Tory sources, the Mail disclosed it had in fact been Osborne Oliver was mentioning.
Had it gone ahead, Beckham would have received the title of Baron Beckham of Leytonstone – the London area in which he was born – or Baron Beckham of Old Trafford – the home ground of his former club Manchester United.
His wife Victoria would have become Baroness Beckham while their four children would have received the title of “The Honourable”.
Osborne wanted Beckham, 45, to succeed Sir Hugh Robertson, who was sports minister during the 2012 London Olympics.
Beckham had helped London win the right to stage the Games.
Oliver recounted the moment the idea was brought up, recalling: “I looked at him [Osborne], thinking ‘What?!’ And he said, ‘Yes, wouldn’t it be great if David Beckham was put in the House of Lords and became sports minister?
“I said, ‘Hang on a minute, I’ve met Beckham a couple of times. Very nice guy, but I’m not sure if he’s cut out to stand at the despatch box in the House of Lords defending the government’s sports policy, which can be complicated’
“It’s the morning of the reshuffle, do you seriously want me to ring up Beckham and say, ‘Hey, mate, fancy being sports minister?'”
Oliver said he immediately “killed” the plan there and then.
“Everybody would ridicule us, and even if we got glorious coverage for it, we would end up repenting at our leisure for many, many months to come,” he reflected.
In the end, the post was given to Helen Grant, a former judo champion and the Tories’ first black female MP.
It later emerged Beckham had been considered for knighthood in the 2014 New Year’s Honours list but was overlooked following his association with an alleged tax avoidance scheme.