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Rishi Sunak on Monday turned on his predecessor Boris Johnson, claiming that the former prime minister had asked him to interfere and wave a long list of his allies through to the House of Lords.

Sunak said Johnson asked him to reverse the decision by the House of Lords appointment committee (Holac) to block some of the names on his proposed list of peerages.

“When it comes to honours and Boris Johnson, Boris Johnson asked me to do something that I wasn’t prepared to do because I didn’t think it was right, either to over-rule the Holac committee or make promises to people,” Sunak said.

Holac has confirmed it rejected eight peerage nominees put forward in Johnson’s resignation honours, which were announced on Friday. Johnson’s allies have claimed that Sunak broke a promise to wave through the entire list — a charge denied by Downing Street.

“I wasn’t prepared to do that because I didn’t think that was right,” Sunak said at the London Tech Week conference in London.

“And if people don’t like that, then tough. When I got this job I said I was going to do things differently because I was going to change politics.”

Two former MPs who had expected to receive peerages from Johnson — Nadine Dorries and Nigel Adams — have since quit parliament, prompting imminent by-elections. 

Johnson quit as an MP on Friday night ahead of the publication of a report by the cross-party Commons privileges committee which is expected to criticise him heavily for misleading the Commons when he said he did not know about parties held in Number 10 during Covid-19 lockdowns.

The committee will meet on Monday to finalise its report into whether Johnson lied to parliament over the partygate affair, amid heightened security arrangement for its members.

Tensions around the report were heightened after Johnson called the committee, which has a Tory majority, a “kangaroo court” and claimed he was the victim of “a witch hunt”.

Michael Gove, levelling up secretary, told the BBC’s Today programme: “I do deprecate the fact they are now in a position where, as reported, they have had to seek and have been granted additional security. I extend my sympathy to them and their families.”

The committee’s report is expected to be released this week. Johnson’s decision to step down will trigger a third by-election in his Uxbridge constituency.

Labour is confident of winning in Uxbridge, where Johnson had a majority of 7,210 at the last election, but Adams’s Selby seat in Yorkshire will be harder for Labour: the Tories won that seat with a 20,137 majority last time.

The Liberal Democrats, meanwhile, are pouring their efforts into winning Dorries’ Mid Bedfordshire seat, where the Tories are defending a 24,664 majority.

At their meeting, MPs on the privileges committee are also expected to discuss whether comments by Johnson and his allies in the Commons have impugned the integrity of the committee and are potentially in contempt of parliament.

Gove said Johnson had “paid a price because of the nature of the way he handled his relationship with the House of Commons”.

Asked whether he thought Johnson would come back as an MP, Gove said: “I think it’s a matter for him. I’ve offered Boris Johnson advice in the past and he hasn’t always taken it.”

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