A leading Brexiteer has accused the Prime Minister and his Remain campaign of reaching a “new low”, with the suggestion that 22 pro-European Union (EU) supporters were rewarded in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
The pro-Brexit Labour Member of Parliament (MP), Gisela Stuart, spoke out against perceived bias in the Honours list, saying:
“David Cameron and George Osborne have used every single ounce of their power to try to bully and frighten the British people into backing their campaign to keep us in the EU.
“But abusing our honours system to reward campaign cronies and donors is a new low. People in this country are sick of the establishment doing these shabby stitch-ups and will view this as bordering on the corrupt.”
In support of her argument Ms. Stuart pointed to a number of awards given to pro-EU businessmen and cultural figures, including the CBE awarded to Innocent drinks co-founder Richard Reed, who also happens to be the Deputy Chairman of the Britain Stronger In Europe campaign.
Others went to financial backers of the Remain campaign — such as the knighthood for former private equity king Damon Buffini (pictured above) — and to people who signed various ’round robin’ letters from businessmen, entrepreneurs, scientists, doctors and the creative industries urging continued EU membership — like the OBE for Zoopla co-founder Alex Chesterman.
Tory Brexiteer, Iain Duncan Smith MP, agreed with his Labour colleague, telling Sky News:
“The whole honours system itself comes into question when people who’ve obviously been involved directly with funding and support for the Remain campaign are so prominently inside that system.
“It’s an answer that the Government itself has to give but I think the real question really is why now — that’s the question that we are simply asking.”
A Number 10 spokesman dismissed the allegations as “nonsense”, telling Sky News the system of nominations is “transparent and robust.”
A Cabinet Office statement said: “Nominations for honours were considered by the independent committees long before the Referendum was announced.
“Political preference does not play a factor when considering nomination. Each case is considered on merit.”