- Conscience and the Commons
Following his election as Lib Dem leader, Tim Farron was grilled by the media about his beliefs as an evangelical Christian. Has the focus on faith, which began with Tony Blair, reached the point where it is harder than ever to hold religious beliefs and play an active role in political life?
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Baroness Warsi has resigned as the Minister for Faith and Communities, saying she could no longer support the Government’s “morally indefensible” approach to the Gaza conflict.
In her letter of resignation, which was published on the Spectator blog on Tuesday, the former Conservative minister who co-chaired the Party from May 2010 to September 2012 said that the Government’s approach was inconsistent with British values and the country’s commitment to international justice, and would become a basis for radicalisation.
Baroness Warsi, the first Muslim to serve in a British Cabinet and the first female Muslim minister, announced her resignation on Twitter on Tuesday morning, saying: “With deep regret I have this morning written to the Prime Minister & tendered my resignation. I can no longer support Govt policy on #Gaza.”
Warsi represented the British Government at Pope Francis's inauguration Mass along with the minister without portfolio, Ken Clarke, in March 2013.
An absence of expertise and experience within the Cabinet had been "very apparent", she claimed, citing in particular the absence of Ken Clarke and Dominic Grieve, both victims of the recent Cabinet reshuffle and perceived to be moderate Conservative voices, as well as former Foreign Minister William Hague.
In a statement a Downing Street spokesman said that Prime Minister David Cameron regretted her decision to resign.
“Our policy has always been consistently clear – the situation in Gaza is intolerable and we’ve urged both sides to agree to an immediate and unconditional ceasefire,” he added.
Meanwhile the Catholic Liberal Democrat peer Shirley Williams said that Europe must play a leading role in establishing a lasting peace in the region.
She told The Guardian on Tuesday: "European leaders must insist on a ceasefire followed by international negotiations. The political wing of Hamas, as well as Iran and Qatar, must be brought into any such negotiation."
Above: Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI greets Baroness Sayeeda Warsi during a private meeting at the Vatican on 15 February 2012. Photo: CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Catholic Press Photo