British PM Johnson hands brother top honor with seat in House of Lords
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British PM Johnson hands brother top honor with seat in House of Lords

Criticized by opposition MP for ‘the worst kind of cronyism’; meanwhile,John Bercow is the first former house speaker in over two centuries not to be nominated for seat

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks to police officers during a visit to North Yorkshire Police headquarters in Northallerton, northeast England on July 30, 2020. (Charlotte Graham / POOL / AFP)
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks to police officers during a visit to North Yorkshire Police headquarters in Northallerton, northeast England on July 30, 2020. (Charlotte Graham / POOL / AFP)

LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday gave his brother Jo — a former junior minister who quit over his elder sibling’s approach to leaving the European Union — a top honor with a seat in the upper House of Lords.

Former premier Theresa May’s husband Philip will also receive a knighthood “for political service,” the government said, as it unveiled a list of 36 nominations.

The former House of Commons speaker John Bercow, who repeatedly tried to foil the government’s Brexit plans, however, was denied a seat in the upper house.

He is the first former speaker in over two centuries not to receive the honor.

Other notable new lords include the Russian-born British newspaper owner Evgeny Lebedev and the Brexit-supporting cricketer Ian Botham.

But the nominations drew scorn from Johnson’s political foes.

He has displayed “the worst kind of cronyism” by giving jobs for life to “friends and those who have done him favors,” opposition Scottish National Party lawmaker Pete Wishart said.

Brexit supporters accused Bercow of creating voting obstacles in the year it took bickering lawmakers to finally ratify Britain’s divorce deal with the EU.

In this file photo taken on September 4, 2019, Britain’s Minister of State for Universities Jo Johnson arrives to attend a meeting of the Cabinet at 10 Downing Street in central London (DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)

A 2018 report also accused Bercow of presiding over a culture in which “bullying, harassment and sexual harassment have been able to thrive” in parliament. He denied the allegations.

But he also enjoyed his fair share of successes.

His bellows of “Order! Order!” during the Brexit saga went viral and made him briefly into an international media star.

Bercow published a “candid” autobiography and joined the lucrative lecture circuit after stepping down in October.

When news that he might not be selected for a peerage was first reported in June, Bercow explained that he “made a lot of enemies” while overseeing the lower house for 10 years.

“I am not going to sit awake at night worrying about it,” he told the BBC.

Former Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, poses for a photo on Westminster Bridge in London, Oct. 31, 2019 (Stefan Rousseau/PA via AP)

“There are people who have got grievances and agendas of their own who think I just don’t fit.”

The House of Lords will now comprise more than 800 members because peers are allowed to resign or retire but are otherwise expected to serve for life.

“This list of new peers marks a lost opportunity to reduce numbers in the House of Lords,” House of Lords speaker Peter Fowler said.

Fowler’s office had recommended cutting the chamber down to 600 members tops.

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