Westminster watchers may be scratching their heads over the constitutional integrity of Lord Frost’s potential move from the Lords to the Commons, but the possibility of three MPs making the reverse journey from the Commons to the Lords is raising just as many questions.
As the chaos of previous premierships continues to haunt Rishi Sunak, The Times has reported that four high-profile Tory MPs named on Boris Johnson’s resignation honours list would have to step down as MPs in order to accept their peerages, potentially triggering by-elections.
Johnson has nominated Nadine Dorries, former culture secretary, Alok Sharma, Cop26 president, Alister Jack, Secretary of State for Scotland, and Nigel Adams, former Minister of State (without Portfolio), for seats in the Lords.
But is there any way the Tories can avoid potentially costly by-elections?
The House of Lords Appointments Commission has informed the Cabinet Office that the MPs must resign if they are to accept their peerages. To retain their seats would be “constitutionally improper”.
Some have suggested that Sunak should block the list creating deferred peerages which would not take place until after the next general election – a suggestion that Tory peer, Lord Norton of Louth, dismissed as “unprecedented”.
Although sources close to Alister Jack have insisted he is staying put, the other three look interested.
Should these peerages go ahead and trigger by-elections before next year’s general election, there could be some high-profile Tory losses, continuing the misery from the recent council elections.
Alok Sharma’s constituency of Reading West, created in 1983, has become an archetypal swing seat which voted Labour in the council elections and could quite easily do the same in a by-election. Nadine Dorries’s seat, Mid Bedfordshire, looks far safer with the Tories having held the seat almost uninterrupted since 1918. Selby and Ainsty in Yorkshire, Nigel Adams’ seat, also looks safe.
But nothing is certain. After a trouncing in the local elections and with Labour still ahead in the polls, the last thing the Tories want is to be shown up at unnecessary by-elections.
Write to us with your comments to be considered for publication at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sign up for our FREE Reaction Weekend Email
Read the week's best-read articles on politics, business and geopolitics
Receive offers and exclusive invites
Plus uplifting cultural commentary