Mayor of Burnley to become Lord Khan of Burnley in historic moment for town

The Mayor of Burnley will become Lord Khan of Burnley today when he is sworn in as a Life Peer in a historic moment for the town.

Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 12:16 pm

Father-of-two Coun. Wajid Khan will become Lord Khan of Burnley later today in what will be a huge leap forward in progressing the diversity of Parliament’s second chamber.

The investiture is not only a huge honour for the 41-year-old and Burnley as a whole but also represents a great achievement considering the usual demographic for a Lord in this country, and the huge steps this Burnley family has taken in a few short decades.

The average age of a Lord is 70, over half come from London, the south-east and east of England and just 6% are from an ethnic minority.

The Mayor of Burnley, Coun. Wajid Khan, soon to be Lord Khan of Burnley
The Mayor of Burnley, Coun. Wajid Khan, soon to be Lord Khan of Burnley

Nominted by the leader of the Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer, Wajid becomes the youngest opposition peer in the House of Lords and the borough's first Peer since Willis Jackson was appointed Baron Jackson of Burnley in 1967.

A delighted Coun. Khan said: "My father arrived in the UK in the mid 1960s, not knowing the culture and language. My mother joined him in the early 1970s. Back then, they could never imagine that their son would one day become a member of The House of Lords. It’s honestly such a huge honour and privilege, especially with coming from a simple background.”

And it turns out the new title has gone down well in his household, although current restrictions mean he must go to the ceremony alone.

“My wife Anam is now Lady Khan of Burnley and my children three-year-old Hassan and six-year-old Ameera are ‘Honourables’. Ameera is the princess in our home and she’s taking great pleasure in reminding us that she’s now an Honourable – she’s researched it and knows her stuff."

Speaking to the Express while on the train down to London, Wajid admitted he was nervous but very proud of the honour which will be bestowed on him at midday today.

"My family and I are so porud. I suppose it all started at Burnley Council and I was adamant that I would have Burnley in my title because it is my home town," he said.

Helping others is a huge passion for Lord Khan, who is Burnley through and through, having been born in and residing in the town all his life. He attended Heasandford Primary School and Habergham High School and graduated in law from UCLan in 2002, before completing a Masters in European law in 2004.

He certainly has an impressive CV. Inspired by the disturbances in the town in 2001, he led projects to boost community cohesion, which saw him win an award after working on the Corrymeela initiative in Northern Ireland. In 2019, he was awarded the highest civilian award by the President of Pakistan for his work on international human rights.

He has represented Labour in the Daneshouse and Stoneyholme ward on Burnley Council since 2007.

“I think I can add value to The House of Lords and not just because I’m not from the typical background," he added.

"I’m a really modern and progressive thinker and I think the Lords needs to ensure it reflects the views of the people.”

Lord Khan was keen to make clear that he will finish his mayoral duties before immersing himself into his new role and had some inspirational words for young people in the borough.

He added: “Never give up on your dreams. Life will always throw surprises at you, but if you remain focused and committed to causes that matter to you, you will succeed.

"I get a great satisfaction from my education, not only to achieve my own goals, but also that I can use it to help others. Education really is an important tool. No matter how challenging life is, please never lose hope, better days are coming.”