Jeremy Corbyn makes fresh complaint over rejected House of Lords nominees

Michael Savage Policy editor
Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA

Jeremy Corbyn has raised renewed concerns over the decision to reject his nominees for seats in the House of Lords, amid anger on the left over a raft of peerages announced last week.

It is understood the former Labour leader has again complained to the cabinet office about the rejection of a peerage for Karie Murphy, a former Labour official and a close ally.

Related: Boris Johnson urged to address House of Lords gender imbalance

A peerage for Murphy, as well as for other Corbyn nominations, the former speaker John Bercow and former deputy leader Tom Watson, were turned down by the independent House of Lords appointment commission, which vets nominees. The former Labour leader had wanted to install Murphy in the Lords to work on trade union rights. Corbyn did not respond to a request for comment.

Anger over the rejection has re-emerged on the left after a series of prominent Corbyn critics were cleared to join the second chamber. Peerages were given to Frank Field, John Woodcock, Ian Austen, Gisela Stuart and Kate Hoey – all former Labour MPs who had opposed their former leader.

Insiders believe that Murphy’s nomination was blocked in light of the investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission into Labour’s handling of alleged antisemitism. Murphy was one of the most powerful figures inside Labour under Corbyn’s leadership. She denies any wrongdoing.

Previously asked about the rejection of Corbyn’s nominees, a Downing Street spokesman made clear that vetting was a matter for an independent commission. He added: “There is no automatic entitlement to a peerage for any holder of high office.”

Boris Johnson granted the Russian-born newspaper owner Evgeny Lebedev, left, a seat in the House of Lords. Photograph: Ian West/PA

The complaints from the left came as Boris Johnson was also criticised for continuing to expand the Lords to “ridiculous” proportions. His list prompted accusations of cronyism. It included his brother Jo Johnson, his chief strategic adviser Sir Edward Lister, and the Russian-born billionaire newspaper proprietor Evgeny Lebedev. A major Tory donor and prominent Brexiters, including former England cricketer Sir Ian Botham, were also included.

Lord Fowler, the former Tory cabinet minister and now Lord Speaker, warned that the prime minister was encouraging “passenger” peers by frustrating plans to reduce the size of the Lords.

The second chamber will now have almost 200 more members than the Commons. The House of Lords had previously backed plans to reduce the number of peers to 600.

“I do think the prime minister has got to stop these kinds of mass appointments because I think the public are unimpressed with it,” Lord Fowler told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “I think most of us in the House of Lords are unimpressed with it and it is not necessary – we don’t need a House of Lords of 830.

“It is ridiculous because it is far too many for the duties... What you are doing is encouraging some in the House of Lords who are quite frankly passengers and don’t make much effort in any event.”

A government spokeswoman said: “As has been the case under successive administrations, distinguished individuals are periodically appointed as peers to enable the House of Lords to fulfil its role as a revising and scrutinising chamber while respecting the primacy of the Commons.”

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