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Ian Botham, Jo Johnson, Prem Sikka to join House of Lords

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FILE PHOTO: Sir Ian Botham. Action Images via Reuters / Philip Brown Livepic/File Photo FILE PHOTO: Sir Ian Botham. Action Images via Reuters / Philip Brown Livepic/File Photo(REUTERS)          

England cricket legend Ian Botham, who supported Brexit during the 2016 EU referendum and Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s younger brother, Jo Johnson, are among 36 individuals set to enter the House of Lords.

Officials confirmed on Friday that the list of nominations for peerages includes academic Prem Sikka, former chancellors Ken Clarke and Philip Hammond, and publisher of Evening Standard newspaper Evgeny Lebedev.

Botham, 64, was knighted in 2007. He played 102 Test matches for England between 1977 and 1992, figuring among the frontline all-rounders of the time. Jo Johnson, who resigned as MP in September 2019 on the issue of Brexit, is a former journalist who was posted in New Delhi.

The nominations revived the debate about reforming the House of Lords with a smaller number of members. Its speaker, Lord Fowler, criticised the decision to award 36 peerages, calling the list “a lost opportunity to reduce numbers”.

He told the BBC: “The result will be that the House will soon be nearly 830 strong - almost 200 greater than the House of Commons. That is a massive policy U-turn”.

Lord Newby, Liberal Democrat leader in the house, added: “By giving a large number of his cronies peerages, (Johnson) has shown that the Tories have abandoned any pretence of reducing the size of the bloated House of Lords.”

Scottish National Party MP Pete Wishart accused the prime minister of “handing out jobs for life in the unelected House of Lords to friends and those who have done him favours”.

“The prime minister’s idea of levelling up involves gifting his cronies, damaging policy facilitators, and family members with jobs as legislators for life - with no democratic mandate or accountability to people across the UK. It’s the worst kind of cronyism that only highlights the rotten Westminster system that is detached from reality,” he added.

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