RISHI Sunak is considering blocking Boris Johnson’s plan to elevate four Conservative MPs, including Alister Jack, and loyal supporters to the House of Lords, it is being reported.

Former Prime Ministers are allowed to hand out peerages after they have left Downing Street and often choose to reward party donors and supporters.

Mr Johnson used his resignation honours list to nominate the Scottish Secretary, as well as former cabinet ministers Nadine Dorries, Nigel Adams and Alok Sharma, to the Lords. 

They would defer taking their peerages until after the next general election in a move criticised by the SNP which has demanded a swift by election should Mr Jack be nominated.

However, experts have warned that there would be constitutional implications should the Prime Minister block Mr Johnson's list.

Yet there is no precedent for sitting MPs deferring their peerages. 

Mr Jack was one of the few Conservative ministers to remain loyal to Mr Johnson in the wake of the partygate scandal and did not resign from his role.

He was reappointed to the role by both Mr Johnson's successor Liz Truss and then by Mr Sunak after her short career in Number Ten ended and he became PM.

Mr Jack faces losing his seat of Dumfries and Galloway should a prompt by election be held after a slump in support for the Tories in the wake of financial and political turmoil caused by the mini budget on September 23. Should the Conservative fail to win back support he may lose his seat at the next general election.

Last week the UK Government confirmed its view that MPs could not be members of both Houses simultaneously.

In the Lords, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, a Cabinet Office minister, was asked whether the government would allow deferred peerages for sitting MPs.

She said: “It is a common-law principle that members of the House of Lords cannot sit as MPs and, as such, would need to stand down from the House of Commons. The government are aware that there is some precedent for individuals delaying taking up their seats, but this is limited and largely related to their personal circumstances.”

Her reference to the “limited” precedent suggests that the government could reject Mr Johnson’s peerages, the Times reported today.

Lord McDonald of Salford, a cross-bench peer and former permanent secretary at the Foreign Office, said during a debate that the prospect of deferral was simply wrong.

Lord Cormack, a Tory peer, said last week that Mr Johnson’s list showed a “cavalier disregard for the constitution”, and Baroness Smith of Basildon, the shadow leader of the House of Lords, has urged the Prime Minister to block the appointments. 

Lord Blunkett, a former Labour cabinet minister, described the move as a “constitutional outrage”.

The House of Lords Appointment Commission is understood to be vetting Mr Johnson’s resignation list, which includes more than a dozen loyal politicians, party donors and former aides.

The UK Government noted that there existed some precedent for deferred peerages, whereby a nominee could be included on an honours list but with the Letters Patent, which creates the peerage, issued at a later date. 

This was the case for Ruth Davidson , now Baroness Davidson of Lundin Links, who was nominated in July 2020 but did not enter the Lords until July last year. The UK Government indicated that her membership of the Scottish Parliament “meant that a deferment was possible and appropriate”.

There is no precedent for sitting MPs deferring their peerages. 

Constitutional experts have said that should Mr Sunak approve the peerages, he would need to advise the King to break with precedent.

Asked about this, Baroness Neville-Rolfe reiterated: “It is a core constitutional principle that the monarch is never drawn into party politics.”

However, blocking the four MPs risks reigniting divisions in the Conservative Party and would also represent a break with the precedent that a Prime Minister approves his predecessor’s nominations.

Mr Johnson’s plans for a list of peerages came under criticism in July with the Lord Speaker saying it could erode “public confidence in our parliamentary system”.

Lord McFall's comments came as it emerged that the House of Lords Appointment Commission (Holac), the body responsible for vetting peerages, was holding up Mr Johnson's plans.

He wrote to Mr Sunak and Ms Truss, the then final candidates in the Tory leadership race, urging them not to follow Mr Johnson’s modus operandi that has led to accusations of cronyism.

In his letter, Lord McFall said: “A House of Lords that is too big, combined with the fact that some recently appointed members have not been especially active, undermines public confidence in our parliamentary system. I am sure you agree that public trust in politics and in our parliament and constitution is crucial.”