Boris Johnson was instructed the UK intelligence businesses had “severe reservations” about his nomination of Russian businessman Lord Evgeny Lebedev for a peerage, the prime minister’s former chief adviser claimed on Wednesday.
Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s senior aide from 2019 to 2020, mentioned in a blog post he was current when civil servants expressed considerations concerning the prime minister’s plan to award Lebedev a peerage.
“I used to be within the room when the PM was instructed by Cupboard Workplace officers that the intelligence companies and different elements of the deep state had, let’s say severe reservations, concerning the PM’s plan,” he wrote.
Johnson is dealing with mounting strain to elucidate his determination to appoint Lebedev, a detailed good friend and proprietor of the Night Commonplace newspaper, for a peerage quickly after he turned prime minister.
The Sunday Occasions has reported the UK intelligence companies in 2020 warned towards Lebedev being given a seat within the Home of Lords on nationwide safety grounds.
His father, Alexander Lebedev, is a billionaire former banker and ex-KGB agent.
Cummings mentioned he supported the officers’ considerations and instructed Johnson “explicitly that he shouldn’t go forward” with nominating Evgeny Lebedev for a peerage.
He claimed Johnson responded by changing into “very cross” and mentioned the considerations about Lebedev had been “anti-Russian”.
“[Johnson] did his normal trick once I instructed him to not do one thing dumb,” added Cummings. “He stopped speaking to me about it and acquired a stooge to creep into the Cupboard Workplace labyrinth and lower a deal.”
Cummings, who has turn out to be considered one of Johnson’s harshest critics since he left Downing Avenue in 2020, mentioned the Home of Lords appointments fee, which oversees peerage nominations, was given a “sanitised/edited/redacted” model of the civil servants’ considerations about Lebedev.
Labour has known as on Lord Paul Bew, head of the appointments fee, to publish the vetting recommendation offered on Lebedev’s peerage.
Downing Avenue mentioned on Wednesday: “All people nominated for a peerage are carried out so in recognition of their contribution to society and all peerages are vetted by the Home of Lords appointments fee.”
Within the Home of Commons, Labour deputy chief Angela Rayner challenged deputy prime minister Dominic Raab on whether or not Johnson had known as on the safety companies to “revise, rethink or withdraw” their recommendation on Lebedev’s peerage. Raab described Rayner’s declare as “sheer nonsense”.
Lebedev’s spokesperson didn’t reply to a request for remark. He mentioned final week he was not an “agent of Russia” or a safety threat, and has beforehand known as on Putin to halt Russia’s army motion in Ukraine.