NEWBURY MP Richard Benyon has leapt to the defence of his close friend, former Prime Minister David Cameron, over the resignation honours list row.
A leak of Mr Cameron’s resignation honours list revealed he is set to give knighthoods and other gongs to prominent figures who campaigned to remain in the EU, as well as Conservative donors and personal aides.
It prompted Mr Cameron’s former director of strategy Steve Hilton to claim that the resignation honours list was corrupt.
Mr Hilton had commented in the national press that: “David Cameron’s resignation honours list is a symptom of a wider problem; our corrupt and decaying democracy.”
He also called for a reform of what he described as the whole rotten system.
But in an astonishing Twitter outburst last week, Mr Benyon hit back, describing Mr Hilton as a ‘pompous arse’.
And speaking to the Newbury Weekly News last week, he added: “I am a great supporter of the honours system and to hear it degraded in that way by someone who doesn’t even live in this country really touched a
In a Daily Telegraph column entitled,‘Why is Steve Hilton so upset?’, Mr Benyon said: “I am not saying that the Prime Minister should be paid more.
“But we should recognise that it is a job that requires life-and-death decisions, an 18-hour day and intense intrusion into their private life.
“It is therefore reasonable that one thing our system can offer an outgoing Prime Minister is the ability to reward those who have also made sacrifices to make a success of his or her premiership.
“Of course, they shouldn’t take it too far.
“Indeed, I think we would all look unfavourably on an ex-Prime Minister who had lavished honours on his nearest and dearest after only being in the job for a few months and who was leaving with dire approval ratings.
“In David Cameron’s case it was different.
“Up until the referendum fiasco his was an astonishingly successful six years in No 10.
“He left with approval ratings that most political leaders would envy.
“Those around him were part of that endeavour and worked long hours for little acclaim.
“They could be seen in the back of meetings in varying stages of exhaustion and often exasperation.
“They must have frequently wondered why they weren’t working somewhere that involved sane hours and more money.
“We shouldn’t begrudge them a gong.”
The resignation list documents reveal that four Cabinet ministers – Philip Hammond, Michael Fallon, David Lidington and Patrick McLoughlin – are all in line for knighthoods, while former chancellor George Osborne is set to be become a companion of honour.
Mr Benyon added: “Some people get honours for kicking or hitting a ball well, some for pleasing TV audiences and yes, some for being quite good at politics.
“But most recipients of this denigrated system are the worthy and the hitherto unthanked.
“The long-serving dinner lady, the mountain-rescue stalwart and the children’s football coach are the types that make up the vast majority of the Queen’s Birthday or the New Year Honours list.”