UK's first black archbishop John Sentamu is not given life peerage

Fury as Britain’s first black archbishop John Sentamu, 71, is snubbed by Downing Street after he was not awarded automatic life peerage

  • Snubbing broke tradition which saw his predecessor Lord Hope into a life peer 
  • Lord Woolley of Operation Black Vote said snub is ‘nothing short of scandalous’  
  • However, there is no automatic right for archbishops to be given a life peerage
  • Government claimed Sentamu wasn’t given peerage to slim down the House 

Downing Street has been slammed after snubbing Britain’s first black archbishop when he wasn’t awarded an automatic life peerage. 

Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, 71, was expected to receive a life peerage so he would be able to continue sitting in the House of Lords after he retired on June 7. 

While there is no automatic right for archbishops to be given a life peerage, Sentamu’s snubbing broke a tradition which saw his predecessor, Lord Hope, and the last Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, made into life peers. 

It is unclear exactly why Sentamu, who voted Remain in the EU referendum but later voted for Theresa May’s Leave deal, wasn’t awarded a life peerage. 

The Government claims it needs to cut down on numbers in the House of Lords.  

Labour MP David Lammy said: ‘No 10 broke a precedent and snubbed Britain’s first black archbishop for a peerage because it says the House of Lords is too large, but it made room for Ian Botham, Claire Fox and Theresa May’s husband. 

‘Blatant institutional prejudice.’

Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, 71, was expected to receive a life peerage so he would be able to continue sitting in the House of Lords after he retired on June 7

Lord Woolley, founder of Operation Black Vote, told The Times: ‘John Sentamu is a hero and a role model not just to black Britain but to Great Britain. 

‘The fact that he has not been afforded a peerage is nothing short of scandalous. 

‘Given the deluge of peerages to friends and family, of which not one was black, I sincerely hope this is an oversight that will be rapidly corrected.’ 

He added that there is a ‘growing feeling’ that the Government has not prioritised confronting ‘deep-seated racial inequalities’.  

Last year Sentamu publicly rebuked politicians and accused the Government of ‘stifling’ social reconciliations.  

While there is no automatic right for archbishops to be given a life peerage, Sentamu’s snubbing broke a tradition which saw his predecessor, Lord Hope, and the last Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams (pictured), made into life peers

Labour MP David Lammy accused the Government of displaying ‘blatant institutional prejudice’ in its snubbing of Sentamu (pictured giving Eddie Izzard his honorary degree from York St John University

He and Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, said ‘social divisions feel more entrenched and intractable than for many years’.

They expressed concern over ‘divisions within the major political parties which are stifling the emergence of a hopeful and viable vision for the common good in our communities.’

Sentamu then spoke out to explain why he supported Brexit even though he voted Remain. 

He wrote that a second referendum would result in a ‘further draining away of trust from an already discredited political class [that] would be of very great danger to the future government of Britain.’

It is unclear exactly why Sentamu, who voted Remain in the EU referendum but later voted for Theresa May’s Leave deal, wasn’t awarded a life peerage although the Government claims it needs to cut down on numbers in the House of Lords

He added: ‘Permanent loss of confidence in governmental institutions always results in civil unrest and violence.’ 

Social media users have taken to Twitter to accuse the Government of racism in its not awarding Sentamu a life peerage.  

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a list of 36 life peers in July which included his brother, former MP Jo Johnson, and MP Claire Fox, who publicly defended an IRA attack.   

At the time SNP MP Pete Wishart said the move was ‘the worst kind of cronyism’, as he accused the Prime Minister of giving jobs for life to ‘friends and those who have done him favours’.

Social media users have taken to Twitter to accuse the Government of racism in its not awarding Sentamu a life peerage

Last night the Government said they didn’t award Sentamu a life peerage because they needed to cut back on numbers in the House of Lords. 

A spokesman told The Times: ‘The size of the House of Lords needs addressing. But given retirements and other departures, some new members are needed to ensure that the Lords has the appropriate expertise and it continues to fulfil its role in scrutinising and revising legislation. 

According to figures from Operation Black Vote, just 12 of the 794 peers in the Lords are black, including campaigner Doreen Lawrence (the mother of Stephen Lawrence), actress and politician Floella Benjamin and Labour MP Paul Boateng.

Sentamu, who declined to comment on the situation, was told he was being considered for a peerage on June 26 but on July 31 he was told that he had missed out and would have to wait until the next round.  

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