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Former MEPs head for the House of Lords

29th Jan 2021
Former MEPs head for the House of Lords

Former MEPs Dr Syed Kamall (Conservative) and Wajid Khan (Labour) have been been made life peers at the House of Lords.
(Credits: CC-BY-4.0: EU 20XY/EP & Wkhanmep/WikiCommons)

Harun Nasrullah

Two former Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), one Tory the other Labour, are among 17 peers appointed to the House of Lords, last month. The nominations of Wajid Khan and Dr Syed Kamall take the tally of Muslims in the House of Lords to 18.

Khan, a former MEP for North West England and current Mayor of Burnley is among five people nominated by the Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer, while Kamall, the former Tory Leader in the European Parliament and MEP for London, was nominated by the Prime Minister.

Khan, who was Burnley’s youngest ever Mayor, told The Muslim News, “This is the greatest honour. It’s not something I had even considered, but to be put forward as a Life Peer and to serve in the House of Lords is the pinnacle of my long and varied political career.

“Not only is it a personal honour, but it’s also a testament to the support I have had from my family and the residents of our borough and across the North West of England, a region I represented when I served as a Member of the European Parliament. This is a very proud day for me.

“I plan to continue my fight to champion the causes closest to my heart – human rights, workers’ rights, gender equality, and climate change.”
Before becoming an MEP, Wajid was a senior lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire for 12 years and a course leader in community leadership for 11 years.

Khan also worked in the voluntary sector with young offenders, as well as teaching education programmes for homeless young people. The Burnley race riots in 2001 inspired Khan to develop several community cohesion projects, which gained him the Higher Education Active Community Fund Volunteering Award for social and community cohesion in 2004.

Khan’s work in community development has seen him address the Civil G8 on inclusive education in Moscow and advised the Russian Ministry of Education and Science on developing youth strategies.

He has contributed to European-wide ‘Volunteurope’ conferences in Germany, France, Poland, Bosnia and Italy. Within the UK, Khan has developed higher education programmes to increase academic participation among women in the South Asian community. Wajid has directed international leadership conferences in Oman, Turkey, Pakistan and the US and has represented the University of Central Lancashire in collaborative projects with Russian NGOs.

Khan also serves on the Labour’s National Policy Forum and International Policy Commission, in addition to serving on the North West regional board. Khan was included in Labour’s eight-person shortlist for the 2014 European Parliament Election. He took over the North West England seat in July 2017, replacing Afzal Khan, who was elected as an MP, he, however, lost his seat in the 2019 European Parliament Election.

Like Khan, Kamall also lost his seat in the European Parliament last year. Kamall, who is now the Academic and Research Director at the Institute of Economic Affairs and Professor of International Relations and Politics at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, has been a Tory member since 1987 and has held various positions in the party.

In May 2000, Kamall was a Tory candidate for the London Assembly. The following year, he was a candidate for West Ham in the General Election. He was placed fourth on the Conservative list in London for the 2004 European Parliament elections. The Conservatives won three seats and Kamall became an MEP in May 2005, after Theresa Villiers stepped down on being elected as an MP.

In the European Parliament, he was a member of the Economic and Monetary Affairs, Legal Affairs and International Trade committees. Kamall was placed on the A-list of Conservative parliamentary candidates ahead of the 2010 election and was again returned to Brussels in 2014 representing London.
From 2013 to 2014 he served as Leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament. In June 2014, Kamall was elected Leader of the European Conservatives and Reformists in the European Parliament.

Speaking to The Muslim News Kamall said, he is “honoured to have been appointed by the Prime Minister”, vowing to use his “platform in parliament to champion social mobility and local community non-state organisations fighting poverty and social exclusion. I also hope to make a difference and inspire others to make a difference.”

Kamall was born in Hornsey and raised in Edmonton, London. He is of Indo-Guyanese descent; his father migrated to London in the 1950s. He was educated at the Latymer School in Edmonton and holds a BEng from the University of Liverpool, a MSc degree from the London School of Economics and a PhD from City, University of London.

In 1996, Kamall wrote a book on EU telecommunications policy, and has written on multinational business and telecommunications policy for such books as Management in China: The Experience of Foreign Businesses; Trade and Investment in China: The European Experience; Political and Economic Relations Between Asia and Europe: New Challenges in Economics and Management, and in such journals as Management International Review and Transnational Corporations.


Other Muslim peers

(ethnic origin and year conferred)

Conservative Peers
Baroness Afsha, Iranian, 2007
Baroness Helić, Bosnian, 2014
Baroness Manzoor, Pakistani, 2003
Baroness Mobarik, Pakistani, 2014
Baroness Warsi, Pakistani, 2007
Lord Choudrey, Pakistani, 2019
Lord Sarfraz, Pakistani, 2020
Lord Sheikh, Ugandan Asian, 2006

Labour Peer
Lord Alli, Indo-Caribbean, 1998

Liberal Democrat Peers
Baroness Hussein-Ece, Turk-Cypriot, 2010
Baroness Sheehan, Pakistani, 2015
Lord Verjee, Ugandan Asian, 2013

Crossbench Peers
Baroness Falkner, Pakistani, 2004
Baroness Shafik Dame, Egyptian, 2020
Lord Hameed, Indian, 2007
Lord Hussain, Pakistani, 2011

Non-affiliated Peers
Baroness Uddin, Bangladeshi, 1998
Lord Bhatia,Tanzanian Asia

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