QUESTIONS have been raised over whether Alister Jack has done a "sleazy backroom deal with Rishi Sunak" to delay his peerage after he said he would not be accepting his nomination by Boris Johnson while still an MP. 

The Dumfries and Galloway MP told ITV Border he would definitely not accept the peerage, which would trigger a by-election.

But the SNP have questioned whether he’s done "a sleazy backroom deal with Rishi Sunak" to delay it in order to avoid another by-election defeat for the Tories.

Jack was among a list of MPs nominated for a seat in the upper chamber alongside former culture secretary Nadine Dorries, close ally Nigel Adams, and Cop26 president Alok Sharma.

The plan had been for them to all remain as MPs until the General Election before joining the Lords, but the House of Lords Appointments Commission has advised the Cabinet Office that doing so would be constitutionally improper.

Jack told ITV Border: "I’m not going to the House of Lords and causing a by-election."

The Scottish Secretary, however, left the door open to accepting a peerage and entering the House of Lords after the election, which he has said he will not stand in.

Asked if he would go to the Lords if he stood down at the next election, he replied: “Who knows?”

He said his local party will seek to find a new candidate “in the next couple of months”.

SNP MP Mhairi Black challenged Jack to stand down now so people in Dumfries and Galloway can have an MP who will "stand up for their interests".

She said: “Alister Jack must come clean on whether he’s done a sleazy backroom deal with Rishi Sunak to delay his peerage in order to avoid another by-election defeat for the Tories.

“The SNP is the main contender in Dumfries and Galloway, and every Tory-held seat in Scotland. We are ready to take the fight to the Tories - and challenge Alister Jack to stand down now, so people in Dumfries and Galloway can have an SNP MP that will stand up for their interests, instead of rubber-stamping every damaging decision from Downing Street.

“Voting SNP is the best way to beat the Tories in Scotland at the next election - and is the only way to get rid of Westminster Tory govenments for good with independence.”

The Scotland Office has been approached for comment.

Baroness Neville-Rolfe, a Cabinet Office minister, had previously indicated that the proposal to delay peerages could be opposed by the government.

She told the Lords in November: “It is a common-law principle that members of the House of Lords cannot sit as MPs and, as such, would need to stand down from the House of Commons.

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“The government are aware that there is some precedent for individuals delaying taking up their seats, but this is limited and largely related to their personal circumstances.”

Dorries, Adams and Sharma are said to be prepared to give up their seats in the Commons, which means the Tories could end up having to fight three by-elections.

Rishi Sunak has the option of overruling the appointments commission but doing so would risk him becoming more involved in the row over the honours list, which now includes about 50 people.

Some in Number 10 have suggested Sunak should block the list – which is expected to be announced before summer recess - but the Prime Minister believes Johnson is entitled to it.

Johnson faced major criticism after putting his father Stanley up for a knighthood as well as party donors and loyal aides on the list.

Two of them, Ross Kempsell, 31, and Charlotte Owen, who is believed to be in her late 20s, would be the youngest life peers in history.

The former PM previously handed his brother Jo a peerage, which SNP MP Pete Wishart branded as an example of the “the worst kind of cronyism”.