Downing Street unhappy about Labour’s plan to give John Bercow a peerage

PUBLISHED: 15:00 20 January 2020 | UPDATED: 15:00 20 January 2020

John Bercow MP poses for a portrait inside the House of Commons. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

John Bercow MP poses for a portrait inside the House of Commons. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

2019 Getty Images

Downing Street are reportedly unhappy with the news Labour could nominate John Bercow for a peerage after the Tories failed to put him forward over the New Year period.

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Labour has not denied reports that ex-speaker Bercow is among the list of nominees for peerages drawn up by Corbyn.

But Downing Street stressed that the "long-standing convention" was that the leader of the opposition would only nominate people representing their own party for a place in the Lords.

Bercow was elected as Tory MP for Buckingham before becoming the speaker in 2009.

Downing Street would not comment on specific nominations and it is understood that no list of potential peers from Corbyn has been submitted to the prime minister.

But the prime minister's official spokesman said: "It is a long-standing convention that leaders of the opposition can nominate individuals representing their party for peerages."

They themselves, however, appear to have broken convention by making the speaker the first in 230 years not to automatically enter the House of Lords.

Bercow is not the only controversial choice on Corbyn's list of nominations, which was reported by the Sunday Times.

His former chief of staff Karie Murphy has also been put forward for an honour despite the current inquiry into alleged instances of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

The Jewish Labour Movement said Murphy's nomination was "deeply inappropriate and must be rescinded immediately".

"Jeremy Corbyn is using his final weeks in office to reward failure," the group added.

Campaign group Hope Not Hate called for the decision to be delayed until the report is released.

Writing to the House of Lords Appointments Commission they said: "A submission by the Jewish Labour Movement to the EHRC included allegations that complaint processes lacked independence from the leader's office, that staff in the leader's office denied antisemitism was an issue and that individuals, including Karie Murphy, appointed staff members with a known history of antisemitism. Additionally, separate allegations have been raised by whistleblowing staff members including that Ms. Murphy spied on staff and demanded details of their computer searches.

"An informed decision as to the ennoblement of Ms. Murphy is not possible until such time that the EHRC has fully considered all allegations against her and come to a determination as to her culpability with regard to the issue of antisemitism within the Labour Party."

It was a view echoed by Labour deputy leadership hopeful Rosena Allin-Khan, who said: "Hope Not Hate said that anyone who was being investigated by the EHRC shouldn't be recommended for a peerage, so I do think that does need to be taken seriously."

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