Theresa May vows review to ensure honours recipients meet 'integrity standards'


A Conservative government elected on June 8 would review whether action could be taken against recipients of honours who fail to meet standards of integrity, Theresa May has said.

The Prime Minister's comments come after widespread criticism of business tycoon Sir Philip Green and banker Sir Fred Goodwin, and are likely to prompt speculation that changes could be introduced to make it easier to strip controversial figures of their gongs.

Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph, Mrs May suggested that she would like to see more recognition in the honours system for the everyday heroes of local communities.

"We see sportsmen and celebrities who make great contributions to our national life and to the standing of the United Kingdom," Mrs May said.

"We also see people who work really hard in their local community, perhaps on a voluntary basis, making a real difference to people's lives. We want to make sure that contributions are properly recognised."

And she added: "What we've seen, sadly, is a limited number of instances where the public would feel that someone has been given an honour and then perhaps not met the standards of integrity that they would expect.

"I think we just need to look at what should be done."

In a wide-ranging interview, Mrs May indicated that she wanted Britain's share in the European Investment Bank and other assets to be taken into account when calculating the size of any Brexit divorce bill.

Whitehall insiders are understood to believe that assets of this kind could substantially reduce a bill estimated by Brussels at as much as 100 billion euros (£86 billion).

Mrs May told the Sunday Telegraph: "There is much debate about what the UK's obligations might be or indeed what our rights might be in terms of money being paid in the past. We make it clear that we would look at those both rights and obligations."

Pressed on what assets should be considered, she said: "There's the investment bank, there's the investment fund, there are various areas. This will be, as you know, an important part of the negotiations."

Mrs May has denied that her manifesto, with its emphasis on helping ordinary working people, meant she was abandoning the Conservatism of her predecessor Margaret Thatcher.

"No, I'm not," she told the Sunday Telegraph. "I was asked that on Thursday, and I said: 'Margaret Thatcher was a Conservative, I'm a Conservative, this is a Conservative manifesto'.

"And that's the important thing. It's a manifesto which is based on Conservative values and principles.

"We are the party that believes in low taxation, recognises the importance of the strength of the economy - and that does mean ensuring business is supported.

"But we also recognise that what we want to see is responsible business."

Asked what she admired about Mrs Thatcher, the Prime Minister said: "She was somebody who was doing what was right in the national interest. That was the crucial thing, she was turning this country around."

Mrs May also revealed the guest list for her "dream dinner party".

They included aviation pioneer Lettice Curtis, Victorian explorer Edward Whymper, travel writer Wilfrid Thesiger, painter Sir Stanley Spencer, crime writer Agatha Christie and garden designer Gertrude Jekyll.