THE Prime Minister is facing a cronyism row after he appointed a Tory donor as a life peer despite concerns from watchdogs.

Boris Johnson brushed aside objections from the House of Lords Appointments Commission to elevate former Tory treasurer Peter Cruddas to the upper house.

Lord Speaker Lord Fowler also voiced concerns about the number of peers appointed by the Prime Minister, with the total number sitting in the House now standing at 842.

He said: “Mr Johnson has added 16 to his list of appointments bringing the total for the year up to 52 new peers over two lists.

“This list will bring the total in the House of Lords to over 830 – almost 200 more than the House of Commons.”

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On the appointment of Cruddas, a statement on the website said: “The House of Lords Appointments Commission was invited by the Prime Minister to undertake vetting of all party political and cross-bench nominations.

“The commission is an independent non-statutory body. It provides advice but appointments are a matter for the Prime Minister.

“The commission has completed its vetting in respect of all nominees.

“The commission advised the Prime Minister that it could not support one nominee – Peter Cruddas.

“The Prime Minister has considered the commission’s advice and wider factors and concluded that, exceptionally, the nomination should proceed.”

Johnson defended his nomination of Cruddas in a letter to Appointments Commission chairman Lord Bew. He rejected “historic concerns” raised about Cruddas, relating to allegations that he offered access to then prime minister David Cameron in exchange for donations.

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Johnson said: “The most serious accusations levelled at the time were found to be untrue and libellous,” and an internal Conservative Party investigation “found there had been no intentional wrongdoing”.

“Mr Cruddas has made outstanding contributions in the charitable sector and in business and has continued his long track record of committed political service,” the Prime Minister said.

“His charitable foundation, which supports disadvantaged young people, has pledged over £16 million to good causes through over 200 charities and he is a long-standing supporter of both the Prince’s Trust and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.”

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “After months of revelations about the cronyism at the heart of this Government, it’s somehow appropriate the Prime Minister has chosen to end the year with a peerage to Peter Cruddas.

“It’s never been more clear: there is one rule for the Conservatives and their chums, another for the rest of the country.”

Responding to the news, SNP MP Tommy Sheppard called for the upper chamber to be scrapped.

He posted on social media: "The House of Lords is utterly undemocratic and should have been abolished decades ago – but today sees the Tories and Labour continuing to stuff it with their cronies. With independence we can do so much better Scotland."