With Theresa May’s Brexit agreement set to return to the Commons in January, rumour had it that the government – increasingly desperate to convince Brexiteer MPs to support the deal – was considering doling out knighthoods and honours to get them to change their mind.
Lo and behold, the New Year’s honours list for 2019 was announced yesterday. Just two MPs were nominated for knighthoods at the start of the year, one of which was arch-Eurosceptic and vociferous opponent of May’s deal, John Redwood, for political and public service.
Pro-EU voices were quick to suggest this was another attempt at Brexit bribery, but whether or not May’s team were making a desperate attempt to convince the dyed-in-the-wool Brexiteer, Mr S can confirm that Redwood will not be the knight in shining armour the Prime Minister was hoping for. In a post on his personal blog entitled ‘How do the whips persuade people to vote their way?’ written in November, Redwood imagined what would happen if he did become ‘Sir John’ and whether this would change his view of May’s Brexit deal. His conclusion won’t make pleasant reading for Theresa May’s team:
If anyone in future did suggest I might receive an honour to switch my vote I would say No and explain why that would be an abuse of the system. Honours are not tools for whips to use to secure a vote.
And went on to explain why handing out honours to convince MPs to support government policy was such a bad idea:
There have been some suggestions in the press that maybe others are being offered honours or inducements. It is difficult to see how this works for the government were they to be susceptible to such bad practice. Once they have announced an honour they cannot withdraw it, and the individual in receipt of it cannot be contracted to behave in a certain way thereafter. There have been plenty of cases where MPs have received honours, only to be very critical of the government and leadership shortly afterwards, as the two issues are not related and should be unrelated.
Mr S doesn’t have much hope that May’s team were paying attention…