Boris Johnson has been accused of handing out ‘jobs for mates’ after he gave Zac Goldsmith a lifelong role in Parliament despite voters rejecting him at the ballot box.
The former Conservative MP, who represented Richmond Park before losing the seat for a second time to Liberal Democrat Sarah Olney last week, has been made a peer in the House of Lords.
The lifetime appointment means he will no longer have to face an election and can remain in government as environment minister.
Labour’s shadow cabinet minister Jon Trickett said: “It says everything you need to know about Boris Johnson’s respect for democracy that he has ignored the voters of Richmond Park and appointed Goldsmith to government.
“The public deserves better than a government-appointed by “jobs for mates”.”
The Green Party’s Molly Scott Cato, who represents South West England in the European Parliament, asked why elections are worth contesting if privileged people can still find a way into office.
Zac Goldsmith handed life peerage and keeps environment role
You can see how this encourages corruption. After all, why bother to fight election campaigns when going to Eton and being incredibly wealthy is a much more efficient route to power?https://t.co/IGUxrOqNX1
— MollyMEP (@MollyMEP) December 20, 2019
The chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society, which campaigns for reform of the House of Lords and the voting system, said elevating Mr Goldsmith to the Lords showed it up as an “absurd insurance policy for trounced MPs”.
Darren Hughes said: “The bloated House of Lords is already packed full of defeated and former MPs – over 200 of them.
“Politicians shouldn’t be rewarded with votes on our laws for life after losing their seat.
“This issue we’ve seen across parties for years, and makes an absolute joke of democratic accountability. Our second chamber should not be some absurd insurance policy for trounced MPs.
“While hard working families scramble to finish their Christmas shopping the political class are swapping gifts with each other – courtesy of the taxpayer.
“Enough is enough. There should be a moratorium on new appointments while the Lords is replaced with a fairly-elected revising chamber.”
Mr Goldsmith lost by 7,766 votes in the election last week and was defeated by Sadiq Khan int he 2016 London mayoral election.
He is not the only ex-Tory MP to move into the House of Lords, with Nicky Morgan, who stood down ahead of the election, also elevated to the chamber.
He has previously tweeted his disgust at the thought of the Lords being used as a chamber for “apparatchiks” to be removed from “democratic pressure” by their party leaders for lengthy periods of time,
The Tory-Lib Dem government unsuccessfully tried to introduce a partly elected chamber, with peers serving for 15 years, in 2012.
Seedy lists of party apparatchiks appointed by power hungry party leaders & insulated from any democratic pressure for 15 yrs? No thanks.
— Zac Goldsmith (@ZacGoldsmith) July 10, 2012
A spokesman for the Prime Minister said: “Zac Goldsmith was doing an excellent and committed job in cabinet dealing with really important issues and he will now be able to get on with that work and carry on delivering.”