Quakers on front bench

Two MPs with Quaker connections have been appointed to the Labour Party front bench team

The new Labour leader Keir Starmer has appointed two members on his front bench team with Quaker credentials. Friend Catherine West, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, was appointed to the shadow foreign affairs team as shadow minister for Europe and the Americas, while Thangam Debonnaire, who has spoken publicly about her Quaker heritage and her political beliefs, was appointed shadow secretary of state for housing. The Bristol West MP spoke in 2018 at Bristol Central Meeting House about her Quaker parents and attending Wiltshire and Huddersfield Meetings as a child.

Catherine West, who gave the 2017 Swarthmore Lecture and was previously shadow sports minister, recently criticised the government for going ahead with the Cheltenham Festival last month, after which several Cheltenham racegoers contracted COVID-19.

‘Serious questions need to be asked about whether it was appropriate to have a mass gathering of tens of thousands of people while the rest of Europe were enacting social distancing and banning mass gatherings,’ the MP told BBC Sport. 

There were 251,684 racegoers across the four days of the Festival, while 68,500 watched the Cheltenham Gold Cup on 13 March, just days before the government banned mass gatherings.

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