RISHI Sunak and Boris Johnson have indulged in an extraordinary public spat, with accusations over dishonesty and impropriety over the award of honours.

The Prime MInister claimed his predecessor had asked him to “do something I wasn’t prepared to do”, leading Mr Johnson to accuse him of “talking rubbish”.

The House of Lords Appointments Commission (Holac) rejected eight of Mr Johnson’s nominations ahead of the list being confirmed last Friday.

Allies of the former Prime Minister, who quit as an MP the same day over the Commons Partygate inquiry,  have since complained bitterly about interference from Number 10.

However Government figures have insisted that neither Mr Sunak nor Downing Street removed names from Mr Johnson’s list of submissions.

Mr Sunak this morning said Mr Johnson had asked him to “do something I wasn’t prepared to do”, adding: “If people don’t like that, then tough."

Former culture secretary Nadine Dorries, ex-minister Nigel Adams and COP26 president Sir Alok Sharma were reportedly put forward by Mr Johnson for peerages.

However they did not receive them, and Ms Dorries and Mr Adams quit as MPs alongside Mr Johnson, leaving the Tories having to defend three byelection seats.

Appearing at the London Tech Week conference, Mr Sunak said:  “Boris Johnson asked me to do something that I wasn’t prepared to do because I didn’t think it was right.”

“That was to either overrule the Holac committee or to make promises to people. Now, I wasn’t prepared to do that. I didn’t think it was right 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 wanted to change politics and that’s what I’m doing.

“And I’m also keen to make sure that we change how our country works and that’s what I’m here talking about today: making sure that we can grow our economy, that we can maintain our leadership in the innovative industries of the future.”

In response, Mr Johnson released a statement suggesting Mr Sunak was being deliberately misleading.

The former prime minister said: “Rishi Sunak is talking rubbish.

“To honour these peerages it was not necessary to overrule Holac – but simply to ask them to renew their vetting, which was a mere formality.”

Downing Street took the decision on Saturday to declassify Holac chairman Lord Bew’s approved names to Mr Sunak.

The letter, dated February 5, contains the seven peerages announced on Friday, along with a redacted name of a person who took the “personal decision to withdraw themselves”.

Holac has confirmed it did not support eight peerage nominees put forward by Mr Johnson.

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An ally of Mr Johnson accused Mr Sunak of having “secretly blocked” the peerages of Ms Dorries and others.

Responding to the PM’s claim about Mr Johnson asking him to do something he “didn’t think was right”, the ally said: “Rishi secretly blocked the peerages for Nadine and others. He refused to ask for them to undergo basic checks that could have taken only a few weeks or even days. That is how he kept them off the list – without telling Boris Johnson.”

The row over the Lords appointments comes as the Privileges Committee is set to meet to conclude its inquiry into whether the former prime minister misled Parliament over No 10 lockdown parties.

MPs have pledged to continue the investigation process despite Mr Johnson’s Commons exit amid accusations of a “witch hunt”.

The panel is set to meet in Westminster on Monday with a view to deciding when to publish its report.

There has been speculation that the seven-person committee, chaired by veteran Labour MP Harriet Harman but with a Tory majority, could release its findings in a matter of days.

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove said today that any vote on the findings would be a “matter for the House of Commons”, as he appeared to distance the Government from any role in the response to the inquiry.

The probe is thought to have ruled Mr Johnson lied to Parliament when he told MPs Covid rules were followed in Downing Street despite drunken parties while social distancing restrictions were in place.

Reports suggest the panel was set to recommend at least a 10-day suspension, reaching the threshold for a by-election to be potentially triggered in his Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency.

Mr Johnson accused the committee of “bias” and likened it to a “kangaroo court”.

The Privileges Committee, in response, said Mr Johnson “impugned the integrity of the House” with his attack.

While the former Tory Party leader will no longer be affected by a decision to suspend him, given that he has resigned from the green benches, the committee could choose to apply other sanctions.

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Former Commons speaker John Bercow was banned last year from being permitted a pass to gain entry to the parliamentary estate after being found guilty of bullying by Westminster’s Independent Expert Panel.

Mr Gove defended the integrity of the committee but refused to rebuke party colleagues.

He told BBC Radio 4: “It is not my job or role to censor or police anyone’s views in a matter of public debate. I have respect for the work that they have done and I think that we need to respect again the integrity of the process and wait until the report is published before then debating its conclusions and the consequences.

“The second thing that I want to say is that I do deprecate the fact that they are now in a position where, as reported, they have to seek or have been granted additional security.”

Mr Johnson and Mr Adams were formally resigned as MPs on Monday under an archaic procedure that saw Chancellor Jeremy Hunt appoint them as Steward and Bailiffs of the Chiltern Hundreds and the Manor of Northstead, respectively.