John Sentamu is to be given a life peerage “imminently” after outrage Britain’s first black archbishop was not given one automatically, it has been claimed.
The former Archbishop of York, 71, was expected to be given a peerage after he stepped down on 7 June so he could sit in the House of Lords in a personal capacity.
But despite his predecessor Lord Hope, and ex-Archbishops of Canterbury Rowan Williams and George Carey being ennobled, the government has yet to announce Mr Sentamu’s seat in the Lords, prompting accusations of “institutional prejudice”.
Claims in the Sunday Times that Number 10 was trying to reduce numbers in the Lords were met with fury when it emerged Prime Minister Boris Johnson was giving his own brother, Jo, a seat.
Now Downing Street appears to have U-turned, with a Whitehall source saying late on Sunday that Mr Sentamu’s peerage is “imminent”.
They claimed the delay was down to a procedural hold up with the House of Lords Appointments Commission.
“He was put forward for a peerage but the approval process is still ongoing,” the source added.
The Sunday Times originally reported Mr Sentamu was told he was in line for a peerage – only to be informed a month later he would not be getting one.
At the time, his successor Stephen Cottrell, who was enthroned on Sunday, tweeted: “Disturbed to find out today that whether it be through negligence or intent my predecessor Sentamu has not been given the peerage that has been the custom for many years.
“I trust this will soon be rectified. @UKHouseofLords will benefit from his voice.”
Shadow justice secretary David Lammy MP said the decision showed “blatant institutional prejudice”.
He tweeted: “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.”
David Davis, the former Conservative cabinet minister also said Number 10 had “made a mistake” not ennobling Mr Sentamu.
He said: “He was a great archbishop. It cannot claim it needs to limit the size of the Lords whilst elevating Boris’s brother. It should be put right immediately.”
Mr Sentamu has expressed largely traditionalist views, opposing same-sex marriage and criticising multiculturalism.