The chief of the unsuccessful Remain campaign has defended accepting a top honour from the Queen in the wake of EU referendum.

Will Straw, the former executive director of Britain Stronger in Europe, admitted he did not know why David Cameron made the recommendation in his resignation honours.

But the failed Labour parliamentary candidate and son of former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said he accepted the award so he could take his wife to Buckingham Palace.

"I didn't ask for the award, but when I was offered it I wasn't going to turn it down," he told the Constitutional Affairs Committee today (1 November).

"I wanted to have an occasion to take my wife to the Palace as we will be doing in the near future, and to have something to remember the hard work that I and others put into the campaign."

Straw was grilled by veteran Labour MP Paul Flynn, who asked if the winning Leave side of the referendum campaign were "showered with ermine and awards too?"

The exchange comes after Cameron faced criticism for handing out 46 awards, including a knighthood for his spin doctor Craig Oliver and former Chancellor George Osborne being made a Companion of Honour.

Steve Hilton, a former Number 10 policy guru, branded the honours system as "corrupt" after news of Cameron's awards broke. "Let's not just be outraged about it – let's use this moment to bring about radical reform of the whole rotten system," he told The Times.

"The corruption comes when the honours system starts to clash with democratic principles. The most obvious way this happens is when people who are not elected make the laws which we live under.

"We've just fought and won a referendum campaign on the principle that un-elected bureaucrats in the EU should not have the power to impose laws on us."