31-year-old Boris Johnson aide gets plum place in the House of Lords

LONDON — A political journalist-turned-spin doctor who has barely settled into his 30s took his seat in the U.K.’s unelected House of Lords on Thursday as part of Boris Johnson’s controversial farewell honors.

Ross Kempsell, 31, who serves as the former prime minister’s spokesperson, is now Baron Kempsell of Letchworth.

He took his place in the Lords Thursday, where he’ll be guaranteed a seat for life as a Conservative peer to scrutinize government legislation, and will be entitled to claim a £332 per day attendance allowance.

Other Johnson allies joining the Lords this week include the U.K.’s youngest-ever life peer, Charlotte Owens. The 30-year-old former special adviser becomes Baroness Owen of Alderley Edge. Kulveer Ranger, a 48-year-old management consultant and former Tory candidate who worked with Johnson when he was mayor of London, becomes Baron Ranger of Northwood.

Outgoing prime ministers of all political persuasions have long used their resignation honors to reward allies with seats in the Lords and honors including knighthoods.

Johnson’s own list sparked particular controversy, with a row erupting over allies who didn’t make the cut. He also took flak for rewarding figures at the center of the Partygate controversy, which saw coronavirus rule-busting gatherings take place in government on Johnson’s watch.

Kempsell remains the go-to person for Westminster journalists hunting for the latest line from Team Johnson.

His winding career path saw him graduate from the University of Cambridge to a job at right-wing news site Guido Fawkes. He went on to become TalkRadio’s political editor in 2018, where he got the scoop that the then-prime minister wound down from his political duties by painting model buses.

Kempsell then left journalism to become a media special adviser in Johnson’s government from 2019 to 2020, after which he had a brief return to the industry as a special correspondent at Times Radio. He then shifted back to become a political director at Conservative campaign headquarters. 

Kempsell once edited Cambridge University’s magazine Varsity — where he treated readers to a column on “why [then-Chancellor George] Osborne’s taste in rap music is killing the economy.”