A LONG-STANDING Tory politician and former Immigration Minister has been rewarded with a peerage in David Cameron’s resignation honours list.
Timothy Kirkhope, an MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber, has been involved in the Conservative Party for 50 years and said he was extremely touched to receive the call from Mr Cameron.
Others from the region to be honoured are pro-EU Tory donor Andrew Cook CBE who was handed a knighthood for political service. The millionaire chairman of Sheffield-based steel firm William Cook Holdings is former Treasurer of Conservatives In and is known for regularly lending David Cameron his private jet throughout his 2010 General Election campaign.
His honour is likely to fan the flames of ongoing criticism from Labour and the Lib Dems that Mr Cameron has used his resignation honours to reward his political allies and former staff.
Ex-Chancellor George Osborne has been made Companion of Honour and Samantha Cameron's special adviser Isabel Spearman has been awarded an OBE. Thea Rogers, a special adviser to Mr Osborne, has received the same award.
The Prime Minister’s spokesperson Helen Bower-Easton was given a CBE as was Mr Cameron's Press Secretary to the Prime Minister Graeme Wilson. His special adviser Giles Kenningham was awarded an MBE.
Meanwhile, Will Straw, executive director of the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign which led the failed EU Remain campaign, gets a CBE for political and public service.
However Mr Kirkhope said no one could accuse him of cronyism, having served loyally under 11 different Tory leaders.
Mr Kirkhope, who is a former MP for Leeds North East, said he had to remain tight-lipped about the honour for almost three weeks.
The 71-year-old who lives in Knaresborough, was only able to tell his wife and family on Thursday night but continued with prior plan of attending a classic car rally with Tory MP Greg Knight.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon and Patrick McLoughlin have also been recognised in the list, which was released unexpectedly on Thursday night. Those due to receive honours had been briefed that it would be released on Friday.
Mr Kirkhope faces losing his job as an MEP when Britain formally leaves the EU but he said his peerage had nothing to do with Brexit or the fact that he had been a solid Remain campaigner.
He said: “I don’t think I could be put down as a crony because when you have had a career as long as mine I have been loyal to 11 leaders.
“I’m very touched that [David Cameron] should consider me in this way.
“I’ve represented Yorkshire since 1987 as an MP and MEP and I’m not about to leave. I am going to continue to do what I can to further the interests of Yorkshire.”
It emerged yesterday that Prime Minister Theresa May’s leadership campaign received £15,000 from a major Tory donor who asked to be withdrawn from David Cameron’s resignation honours list.
Ian Taylor was among supporters who contributed a total of £275,000 to Mrs May’s leadership campaign within two weeks, according to the register of MPs’ financial interests. The Vitol oil boss was reported to have been nominated for a knighthood by Mrs May’s predecessor. He later said he did not want his name to go forward amid the cronyism row.
Former director of civil liberties organisation Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti, has finally accepted a peerage from Jeremy Corbyn after saying she had been offered an honour many times before.
John Mann, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism, said the appointment was “appalling hypocrisy”. Ms Chakrabarti led the party’s independent inquiry into anti-Semitism.