REPORTS that Boris Johnson has asked four Tory MPs to delay taking up peerages so that the party can avoid losing by-elections is "manipulation of democracy in its worst form", the SNP’s shadow constitution secretary has said.

As outgoing prime minister, the second this year after Liz Truss’s swift resignation following 49 days in office, Johnson is entitled to hand out a number of spots in the House of Lords.

It emerged on Tuesday that a number of Tory MPs, including Scotland Secretary Alister Jack and former culture secretary Nadine Dorries, are in line for a peerage.

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However, in yet another break from constitutional convention, Johnson has reportedly asked those MPs who he has nominated to delay taking up their spot in Westminster’s second chamber to avoid triggering by-elections.

A poll earlier this year found that if a snap General Election is called before 2024, Jack would lose his Dumfries and Galloway seat to the SNP. The Tory MP currently only has a 2000 vote majority, and the SNP held the seat between 2015 and 2017.

Jack was made Scotland Secretary by Johnson in 2019 and has survived numerous reshuffles in the post under both Truss and current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

The SNP have also demanded Jack stand down and call a by-election instead of waiting until the next election.

In a series of polls earlier this year, the Tories sat 39 points behind Labour, and could lose up to 119 seats at the next UK-wide ballot, wiping out their current majority.

The National: Jack has served under three Tory prime ministers since 2019Jack has served under three Tory prime ministers since 2019 (Image: PA)

Now the Tories are reportedly planning to ennoble four Tory MPs as part of their latest push to fill the Lords with supporters.

COP26 president Alok Sharma, who retained his title but will not attend any of Sunak’s Cabinet meetings after last month's reshuffle, and former Cabinet office minister without portfolio Nigel Adams, will also join the Lords.

Tommy Sheppard, the SNP’s constitution spokesperson, told The National that the move is “shocking and disgusting”.

He added: “Now they're not only stuffing the upper chamber full of their cronies, but they're trying to manipulate the constitution in order to make it suit their party political convenience.

“I’ve never heard of this notion of a peerage being deferred for two years to suit the party of governments timetable or cabinet requirements. Its manipulation of democracy at the worst order.

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“It’s yet more evidence, if more evidence were needed, for the compelling case to abolish the House of Lords, and that is something we look forward to by using the lifeboat of independence to escape this madness.”

Sheppard said that while the move was “absolutely shocking”, he was not surprised that it came from Johnson, adding: “With him, it’s par for the course”.

Johnson has made more than 80 nominations to the House of Lords in just under three years he served as prime minister, including billionaire party donor Peter Cruddas.

Cruddas was behind the campaign during the Tory leadership contest between Truss and Sunak to have Johnson included on the ballot, and was appointed to the Lords in defiance of advice from an independent watchdog.

The National: Sheppard said he believed Jack knows the 'writing is on the wall' ahead of the next General ElectionSheppard said he believed Jack knows the 'writing is on the wall' ahead of the next General Election (Image: NQ Staff)

Johnson’s other appointments to the now 800-strong second chamber also included Russian billionaire Evgeny Lebedev and his younger brother Jo Johnson, who now sits as Lord Johnson of Marylebone.

He also appointed former Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson, now Baroness of Lundin Links, and failed MSP candidate and party donor Malcolm Offord, who now serves as parliamentary under secretary in the Scotland Office.

Sheppard added that he believes Jack will take up the post as his election prospects are weak.

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He added: “Obviously, he [Jack] probably sees the writing's on the wall and he’s going to lose his seat anyway at the next election.

“The idea of sort of scheduling your appointment to an unelected upper house of parliament to suit party political convenience, it's just it's beyond, it’s bordering on corrupt actually.

“Nadine Dorries as well, there seems to be no depths to which they will not stoop in terms of stuffing the House of Lords with their cronies.

“I mean I think she’s a woman singularly unfit for public office of any account.”

A spokesperson for Jack declined to comment on “speculation” around peerages on Tuesday, but claimed he was “committed to representing his constituents”.

No 10 would not say whether it is feasible for an MP to continue sitting after being offered a peerage.