David Lammy: Everything you need to know about the UK's new foreign secretary (2024)

Labour's David Lammy is known as one of the most outspoken members of the party's frontbench - having had his own national radio show until earlier this year.

He will now be the face of the UK's policy abroad, having been appointed to the role of foreign secretary - one of the top jobs in government.

Here's all you need to know about the Tottenham MP.

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A Christian family

The London-born 51-year-old was born to Guyanese parents and has four siblings. He was raised by his mother, after his father left him, aged 12.

He described his father's abandonment as an event which left him feeling "deeply inadequate" and with a "powerful sense of shame".

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Mr Lammy said the Christian values inherited from his parents have been responsible for him not getting lost in "rough and tough" politics.

Aged 10, he won a choral scholarship to attend The King's School in Peterborough.

David Lammy: Everything you need to know about the UK's new foreign secretary (4)

He graduated from the SOAS School of Law in 1993 with an LLB (Hons) degree, and went on to be the first black Briton to attend Harvard Law School. He later became friends with former US president Barack Obama.

His career

From 2002 on, he held different roles under former Labour prime ministers Sir Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, including as a parliamentary under-secretary and minister of state.

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After Labour's 2010 general election defeat, Mr Lammy turned down a role in the shadow cabinet under Ed Miliband, who succeeded Gordon Brown as leader.

When Sir Keir Starmer took office as Labour leader in April 2020, Mr Lammy was appointed shadow lord chancellor and shadow secretary of state for justice.

In 2021, he became shadow foreign secretary.

David Lammy: Everything you need to know about the UK's new foreign secretary (8)

Anti-racism work

One of the main focuses for Mr Lammy has been his work away from the frontbenches on anti-racism.

Back in 2018 and at the height of the Windrush scandal, he accused the Conservatives of "inhumane and cruel" treatment of the Windrush generation.

Mr Lammy has previously commented on slavery and called for more "celebration and commemoration… of slaves that were shipped… and the many that died…"

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Giving an outline of how he would reform the Foreign Office ahead of the election, Mr Lammy said "being the first foreign secretary descended from the slave trade", he would use his roots to inform his politics, The Guardian quoted him as saying in a recent speech.

In 2016, the then prime minister, Lord Cameron, commissioned him to lead a review into racial disparities in the justice system.

Mr Lammy has also been a critic of antisemitism within the Labour party and in late 2021 he apologised for nominating Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader back in 2015.

Softening of tone on Trump

Mr Lammy campaigned unsuccessfully for the UK to stay in the EU and sought a second referendum to overturn the Brexit vote.

He has in the past been highly critical of Donald Trump.

Back in 2017, Mr Lammy described him as "racist" and a "Nazi sympathiser", saying he would take to the streets and join protests if the then president visited the UK.

David Lammy: Everything you need to know about the UK's new foreign secretary (10)

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The shadow foreign secretary has softened his tone more recently, saying a Labour government would work with Mr Trump if he returned to the White House and describing his approach to NATO as "misunderstood".

He has criticised the Tories' Rwanda plan, a controversial scheme which would see illegal migrants who have crossed the Channel being sent to the country.

Speaking during a campaign event in Wales last month, he said: "The Rwanda scheme that government has put forward is nothing more than a shameless gimmick."

On Gaza

Mr Lammy has called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, where Israel has been waging a war against Hamas which has killed more than 37,120 Palestinians in the past eight months, according to the besieged enclave's health ministry.

The war was sparked by Hamas's 7 October attacks which killed 1,200 people in southern Israel and saw 250 taken hostage.

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Mr Lammy has previously told Sky News's Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips programme he had "serious concerns about a breach in international humanitarian law", in regards to the soaring number of deaths in Gaza.

He called on Lord Cameron, the foreign secretary, to be "very clear and publish the legal advice because this is serious for the British people", he said, as "it would mean we are complicit in that action".

On Ukraine

During his visit to Normandy to commemorate Second World War veterans on D-Day, Mr Lammy said he told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that support for Kyiv is "ironclad".

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Ukraine has been at war with Russia ever since the latter decided to invade its smaller neighbour on 24 February 2022.

Mr Lammy posted a picture on X of him and Mr Zelenskyy embracing and said: "We will stand with Ukraine until it wins."

David Lammy: Everything you need to know about the UK's new foreign secretary (2024)
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