Theresa May has continued the New Year’s Honours farce by shamelessly using the system in a vain attempt to shore up her own flailing leadership.

Included in the honours list are half  – yes HALF – of the ruling board of the Tories’ influential 1922 Committee. 

Tory backbenchers elect the 1922 Committee as their representatives to the Government, and the Committee are extremely powerful within the party – holding vital powers over the triggering of any potential leadership challenges.

Those receiving honours include the 1922 Committee Chairman, Graham Brady, and Treasurer, Geoffrey Clinton-Brown who both receive knighthoods – as well as Vice Chairman, Cheryl Gillian, who becomes a Dame.

The support of the 1922 committee is vital to May’s future as Prime Minister. Tory backbenchers have rarely been shy about removing weak leaders and the 1922 Committee’s nebulous control is all that stands between May and a potential coup.

The support of Graham Brady is particularly important. He is regarded as a Tory kingmaker who will play a role in any future leadership election. He is also the keeper of letters of no confidence in the PM, which would give him the power to call a vote of no confidence if the 15% threshold were to be reached.

Brady has recently called for patience with May, and has repeatedly doused calls for a leadership challenge. His continual interventions on her behalf have helped maintain her premiership, and it would be no surprise to hear that May has rewarded him in the honour’s list as a result of his continued obedience.

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All three of those receiving honours publicly supported Brexit, as did a fourth MP to receive a knighthood. May is already buying their good will with her Brexit strategy which represents a key factor in their support.

The inclusion of Mark Sedwell – another of May’s closest allies – on the list is a continued reminder of the cronyism inherent in the honour’s system.

After condemning Cameron for honouring 48 of his closest allies and advisors May’s list seems little different. 15 out of 25 names in the list are officials from her last ministerial department – an act of blatant favouritism.

The list also contains 6 politicians, a rise from 3 in last year’s list. This is a staggering over-representation for a group that represents only 1 of the 8 categories for honours.

This all follows May’s commitment to the “integrity” of the honours system from her 2017 manifesto.

One Labour MP has already called out the gifts for what they are, weakness. May has now bought her position twice: once with a bung to the DUP, and now again with baubles for her own party.

Surely the only way she might fulfil her promise to serve a full 5 years is by buying people off.

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