Northern Ireland news

DUP's Nigel Dodds to join House of Lords

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds. Picture by Michael Cooper/PA

THE DUP's deputy leader Nigel Dodds is to join the House of Lords.

Mr Dodds was MP for North Belfast for almost two decades before losing his seat to Sinn Féin's John Finucane in December's general election.

The prime minister's brother Jo Johnson, several Tory grandees and numerous Brexit-backers – including ex-Labour MP Kate Hoey – are also set for peerages.

Ex-England cricket player Sir Ian Botham, who supported the Leave campaign, newspaper owner Evgeny Lebedev and former leader of the Scottish Conservatives Ruth Davidson were also among 36 new peerages announced yesterday.

Philip May – the husband of Theresa May, Boris Johnson's predecessor in Downing Street – will receive a knighthood "for political service".

Mr Dodds was a director of the Vote Leave campaign in the EU referendum. He took part in various political negotiations, including the 2017 confidence-and-supply agreement propping up the Conservative Party.

DUP leader Arlene Foster described his peerage as a "rightful recognition of the significant contribution Nigel has thus far played in both local and national political life".

Mr Dodds said he was "honoured and humbled" to be granted a peerage.

"In all of my work my aim will be to make a positive contribution to keep Northern Ireland moving forward," he said.

The list includes former MPs who rebelled against the Labour position in backing Brexit, including Northern Ireland-born Kate Hoey.

However, Mr Johnson did pick Conservative former chancellors Ken Clarke and Philip Hammond for peerages, after he stripped the Tory whip from them when they defied him over Brexit.

He also selected his own brother Jo, who dealt his older sibling a major blow in resigning from his cabinet citing "the national interest".

And Mr Johnson nominated his chief strategic adviser Sir Edward Lister, a long-term ally who supported him as London mayor.

Mr Johnson was quickly accused of cronyism by elevating his allies.

The Lord Speaker, Lord Fowler, accused the prime minister of "a massive policy U-turn" by further swelling the upper chamber's size.

Others to get nominations include Charles Moore, the former Daily Telegraph editor and Margaret Thatcher biographer, and Claire Fox, who was a Brexit Party MEP.

Mr Lebedev, the son of a former KGB operative, owns the Independent and Evening Standard – and has long been a friend of Mr Johnson.

Lord Fowler, a former Conservative cabinet minister, said the House will "soon be nearly 830 strong", accusing Mr Johnson of "the abandonment of an established policy" to reduce its size.

Darren Hughes, the chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said: "By appointing a host of ex-MPs, party loyalists and his own brother, the PM is inviting total derision. That he can get away with it shows what a private members club this House is."

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