some dickhead at MI6 will say this is proof of ‘kremlin influence’

Johnson prompts outrage after nominating Russian-born media mogul Evgeny Lebedev for peerage, Jul 31 2020

Evegeny Lebedev, the Russian-British owner of the Independent and the Evening Standard newspapers, has been nominated for peerage by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, setting off a round of hysteria on social media. Moscow-born Lebedev is the son of Alexander Lebedev, a former member of the KGB, who was stationed at the Soviet Union’s London embassy in the 1980s. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the father made his fortune in banking and eventually moved to the UK permanently, and both he and his son are outspoken critics of Putin. But ardent believers in the narrative of omnipresent Russian influence in the UK now see the family’s interactions with the British elite as nefarious Kremlin influence. Last year, the Guardian newspaper sensationally reported that Johnson had met with the elder “ex-KGB agent” Lebedev in Italy, naturally portraying the get-together as highly suspect and nefarious. The meeting has frequently been cited by Guardian journalists Luke Harding and Carole Cadwalladr as proof of Russian influence on Johnson. In addition to owning the Independent and Standard, Evgeny Lebedev, who has spent most of his life in Britain, is a high-profile charity campaigner and has long had a friendship with Johnson. Peerage is bestowed by British leaders on chosen individuals, elevating them to the House of Lords where they can claim perks and allowances simply for showing up. The arcane system has long been criticized with many calling for an overhaul.

Along with Lebedev, the PM nominated 35 others, including England cricket legend and vocal Brexit supporter Sir Ian Botham, former Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson and a slew of other political friends for peerages. He also nominated his own brother, Jo Johnson, prompting many to accuse him of cronyism and nepotism. Yet, it was Lebedev’s nomination which caused the biggest stir on social media. Despite the fact that the media mogul family are highly critical of Russian and Kremlin policy, many Russia-skeptical Brits instantly erupted into anger and conspiracy theorizing on Twitter. One disbelieving commenter said the move was a “huge finger” to the British public and a “totally brazen” decision that was all about “Russian money.” Another expressed concern about the “discreet raucous parties” thrown by Lebedev where Johnson allegedly throws off his security protection, and another called the Evening Standard Johnson’s “very own Pravda.” One person suggested Johnson was simply acting on Putin’s orders and compared Lebedev’s elevation to the House of Lords to Pindostan’s recent decision to withdraw its troops from Germany.

The peerage for Lebedev was also unsurprisingly linked to the recently-released ‘Russia Report’ which accuses Moscow of meddling in the 2016 Brexit referendum as well as last year’s general election — alleged interferences which Johnson’s critics say he has turned a blind eye to. The highly-anticipated report did not add much in the way of evidence to any of those allegations, however, relying heavily on media speculation instead.

Boris Johnson nominates his own brother, Tory grandees and Brexit backers for peerages
The Canary, Jul 31 2020

The prime minister has nominated his own brother Jo Johnson, his chief strategic adviser Edward Lister and several Tory grandees for peerages, while a suite of Brexiteers are also set for the Lords. Philip May, husband of Theresa May, Boris Johnson’s predecessor in Downing Street, is also destined for a knighthood, a list of nominations published on Jul 31 showed. On social media, a number of people labelled the choices as ‘cronyism’:

Ex-England cricket player and Brexit supporter Ian Botham, newspaper owner Evgeny Lebedev and former leader of the Scottish Conservatives Ruth Davidson will also head to the House of Lords. The 36-strong list includes numerous former Labour MPs who rebelled against their own party, including Kate Hoey, Ian Austin, and Gisela Stuart. Notable absentees from the list include the last Commons speaker John Bercow and Labour’s former deputy leader Tom Watson.

Johnson also picked Conservative former chancellors Ken Clarke and Philip Hammond (above) for peerages, after he stripped them of the Tory whip after they defied him over Brexit. He also selected his own brother Jo, who resigned from his cabinet citing “the national interest.” Lister, a long-term ally of the Prime Minister having supported him as London mayor, also made Johnson’s list for peerages.

Boris Johnson accused of ‘worst kind of cronyism’ after Lords appointments revealed
The Canary, Aug 1 2020

Prime minister Boris Johnson has been accused of “the worst kind of cronyism” following his latest appointments to the House of Lords. The criticism comes after an announcement that peerages have been granted for the prime minister’s brother and former Tory minister Jo Johnson. Tory grandees and Brexit backers have also been awarded peerages. The SNP’s Cabinet Office spox Pete Wishart said:

The prime minister is handing out jobs for life in the unelected House of Lords to friends and those who have done him favours. His idea of levelling up involves gifting his cronies, damaging policy facilitators and family members with jobs as legislators for life, with no democratic mandate or accountability to people across the UK. It’s the worst kind of cronyism, that only highlights the rotten Westminster system that is detached from reality. It’s clear beyond doubt that Westminster is simply not working for Scotland, and that it is acting against our interests. The House of Lords needs to be abolished, not filled further to the brim at the taxpayers’ expense, an additional cost of £1.1m/yr to the taxpayer.

Darren Hughes, chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said the 36 new peers could cost the taxpayer £1.1m/yr. He 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 member’s club this House is. Is packing the Lords with party loyalists really a priority, as a pandemic rages across the world? This move is an absolute insult to voters. This is making a mockery of democracy. Today marks a nail in the coffin for the idea that the Lords is some kind of independent chamber of experts.

Furthermore, Lib Dem Lords leader Lord Newby said:

By giving a large number of his cronies peerages, he has shown that the Tories have abandoned any pretence of reducing the size of the bloated House of Lords.


  1. PB
    Posted August 2, 2020 at 12:39 am | Permalink

    Another Jewish “media mogul” living in England and pretending to be Russian?

  2. niqnaq
    Posted August 2, 2020 at 4:26 am | Permalink

    Lebedev is christian, actually:
    here is his dad, who is the emigre, since his son was born & educated here:
    Concerning his dad:
    “(Alexander) Lebedev, together with the former President of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, is the owner of 49% of Novaya Gazeta, one of the most vocal newspapers critical of the current Russian Government.”

  3. PB
    Posted August 2, 2020 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    I saw those pages. Not convinced.

  4. niqnaq
    Posted August 2, 2020 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    He was a founder of the Raisa Gorbachev Foundation and supported many cancer and Russian Orthodox Christian charities.

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