Tories draw up a list of ‘less woke’ candidates to replace Justin Welby as speculation grows the Archbishop of Canterbury could quit his post after the King’s Coronation
- Friends of 67-year-old Mr Welby claim that he is ‘tired’ after ten years in the job
- The PM’s allies hope to create a ‘head of steam’ behind a ‘less woke’ candidate
Goverment advisers have drawn up a shortlist of candidates to succeed Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby as speculation grows that he could leave his post after the King’s Coronation in May.
Aides have asked Tory MPs for ‘suggestions’ about ‘suitable’ replacements for Mr Welby, who irritated Downing Street last year by criticising plans to send Channel migrants to Rwanda as the ‘opposite of the nature of God’.
Although the Prime Minister does not directly appoint the Archbishop, it is understood that his allies hope to create a ‘head of steam’ behind a ‘less woke’ candidate, who would then be put forward by the Crown Nominations Commission.
One aide last week described Mr Welby as ‘the sort of wet cleric who would have opposed Margaret Thatcher’s policies in the 1980s’.
Although friends of 67-year-old Mr Welby claim that he is ‘tired’ after ten years in the job, and that helping to organise the Coronation had been a ‘strain’, Lambeth Palace denies that he is planning to quit in the summer.
Tory advisers have drawn up a shortlist of candidates to succeed Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby as speculation grows that he could leave his post after the King’s Coronation
The Mail on Sunday revealed earlier this year that Mr Welby had been asked by King Charles to help to broker a deal to with Prince Harry which would allow him to attend the ceremony.
Mr Welby has also had to navigate splits in the church over proposals to allow clergy to offer blessings to same-sex couples who have been legally married.
Archbishops are usually chosen from one of the 42 diocesan bishops, although one source said that in order to ‘widen the gene pool’, some of the 73 suffragan bishops would be considered for elevation.
Mr Welby worked in the oil industry for 11 years before being ordained in 1992. He was Bishop of Durham from 2011 to 2013 and then became Archbishop of Canterbury.
He is the 105th Archbishop in a line which goes back more than 1,400 years to Augustine of Canterbury, sent from Rome in the year AD597.
It has not been a notably diverse field: George Carey, who served 11 years in the post from 1991, was the only non-Oxbridge-educated Archbishop since Simon Sudbury in 1375.
A source said: ‘The expectation is that Welby will retire after the Coronation. He can’t be pushed, but he might just jump.’
Lambeth Palace declined to comment.
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