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UK News

Outrage after Dr John Sentamu not awarded automatic life peerage

by Tola Mbakwe

Downing Street is getting backlash from church leaders and politicians who are outraged that Dr John Sentamu has not automatically received automatic lifer peerage. 

It would have allowed the 71-year-old to continue sitting in the House of Lords despite retiring as the Archbishop of York in June. 

Although archbishops don't have an automatic right to life peerage, Dr Sentamu's predecessor, Lord Hope, and former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, were both made life peers when they left their Church roles.

Most Rev Stephen Cottrell, who will be enthroned as the 98th Archbishop of York on Sunday afternoon, came to Dr Sentamu's defence on Twitter. 

Christian MP Jonathan Reynolds also criticised the prime minister's actions saying :"Boris Johnson has made several completely indefensible appointments to the House of Lords, but now says there is no room for the John Sentamu?"

Labour MP, David Lammy, has pointed out the race may be factor in the situation and tweeted: "No.10 broke 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 #BlackLivesMatter."

Meanwhile, 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."

Operation Black Vote claims just 12 of the 794 peers in the House of Lords are black.

The Prime Minster list 36 life peers in July. According to The Times, Downing Street told Dr Sentamu on 26th June that he was in the running for a life peerage. However, on 31st July he received a phone call from a representative saying that he wasn't chosen and will have to wait to the next round. 

The Government told The Times the reason Dr Sentamu didn't make the cut was because size of the House of Lords needs to be reduced.

"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," it said. 

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