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Sunak criticised for ‘surprise’ honours list including major Tory donor

Rishi Sunak has been criticised for announcing a “surprise” round of honours – including a knighthood for a major donor to the Conservative Party.

It was announced on the Thursday before the Easter bank holiday weekend that Mohamed Mansour was being knighted for business, charity and political service – he had given £5m to the Tories in 2023 and is a senior treasurer at the party.

A number of Conservative MPs were also made knights and dames.

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Labour’s chair, Anneliese Dodds, said Mr Sunak‘s nominations were “either the arrogant act of an entitled man who’s stopped caring what the public thinks, or the demob-happy self-indulgence of someone who doesn’t expect to be prime minister much longer”.

Asked by Sky News if Labour would rule out giving donors honours if they were in government, Ms Dodds said giving money should not be an “automatic pass”.

Following the announcement, Mr Mansour said: “This award is the greatest honour of my life. I am thrilled and hugely grateful.

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“This award would have meant so much to my father and mother. I wish they could have lived to see this day. This honour is for them, for the values they taught my siblings and I and for everything they did for us.”

Downing Street sources highlighted Mr Mansour’s work supporting charities – including financially backing a memorial to those who died due to COVID.

Speaking to Sky News, Conservative peer and polling expert Lord Robert Haywood said the public would be “unhappy” with the move.

While some non-political figures – like director Christopher Nolan – were also knighted, it’s the political acts that will draw attention.

Mohamed Mansour, who has been knighted by Rishi Sunak. Pic: Reuters
Image: Mohamed Mansour, who has been knighted by Rishi Sunak. Pic: Reuters

Lord Haywood said: “I think people don’t like it, there’s no question about that.

“The problem is that you’ve got people who are genuine philanthropists who also give money to a political party, and that’s where the line isn’t differentiated.”

He added that he was “really surprised” by the timing of the list – but it probably doesn’t say anything about the timing of a general election.

Normally, honours are granted at New Year’s on the monarch’s birthday, or after the resignation of a prime minister, although this is a convention not a rule.

The timing of the announcement, while parliament is in recess, has also raised eyebrows – although sources suggested the timing was linked to the need to make appointments to the Privy Council, including the new Welsh First Minister Vaughan Gething.

Tory MP Philip Davies was one of the Conservative MPs to be made knight. He is known for hosting a television show on GB News with his wife, fellow Conservative MP and minister Esther McVey.

Ex-sports minister Tracey Crouch will become a dame having run a review into reforming the UK football system, and farming minister Mark Spencer will also become a sir.

Treasury Select Committee chair Harriett Baldwin – a Conservative MP – will also become a dame.

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Away from politics, Mr Nolan and wife and producer Emma Thomas have been handed honours following the release of award-winning biopic Oppenheimer.

Dr Demis Hassabis, who co-founded Google’s DeepMind AI business, was also made a knight.

Sky News Source