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LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson named 36 new members to Parliament’s unelected House of Lords on Friday, including his brother, a slew of prominent Brexit supporters and a Russia-born newspaper owner whose father was a KGB agent.

The list of new peers also includes Brexit-backing former lawmakers and ex-cricket star Ian Botham, a vocal proponent of leaving the European Union.

Former Treasury chiefs Ken Clarke and Philip Hammond, who both opposed Brexit, were also appointed to the Lords. So was Evgeny Lebedev, owner of the Independent and Evening Standard newspapers. His father, Russian oligarch Alexander Lebedev, once worked for the KGB.

Former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson is on the list, along with Johnson’s chief of staff Eddie Lister and the prime minister’s anti-Brexit brother Jo Johnson, who quit the government last year in opposition to its policies.

Most of the appointees are allied with Johnson’s governing Conservative Party, though the list also includes several former opposition Labour Party lawmakers who supported Brexit.

A notable omission is former House of Commons Speaker John Bercow. It’s customary for ex-speakers to be appointed to the Lords, but Bercow infuriated the Conservative government by aiding lawmakers’ efforts to change the course of Brexit, Britain historic departure from the European Union.

The new members will be given aristocratic titles — baron or baroness — and will join almost 800 others in the House of Lords.

The chamber reviews legislation passed by the elected House of Commons, and for most of its 900-year history was composed of hereditary nobles. Nowadays members are appointed for life by the government and are a mix of former lawmakers, other notables and political donors.

There are frequent calls to reform the Lords on the grounds that the body is unwieldy, unaccountable and out of touch.

The Speaker of the Lords, Norman Fowler, accused the Conservative government of reneging on a promise to trim the size of the upper house.

Scottish National Party lawmaker Pete Wishart, meanwhile, called Johnson’s appointments “the worst kind of cronyism.”

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In Big Shift, Pope Names Six Women to Vatican Financial Oversight Body

By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis has appointed six women, including the former treasurer for Britain's Prince Charles, to the council that oversees Vatican finances, naming them in one fell swoop to some of the most senior roles.

The appointments to one of the Holy See's most important offices marked the latest attempt by the pope to keep promises to improve gender balance made years ago but which women's groups have said were too slow in being realised.

Francis has already appointed women as deputy foreign minister, director of the Vatican Museums, and deputy head of the Vatican Press Office, as well as four women as councillors to the Synod of Bishops, which prepares major meetings.

Still, Thursday's new appointments marked the largest number of women named at one time to Vatican posts.

The previously all-male Council for the Economy consists of 15 posts. One cardinal is the coordinator and the 14 other posts are divided evenly among members of the clergy and lay people.

The seven-member lay portion now consists of six women and one man. Of the six women, two each are from Britain, Spain and Germany. The sole male lay member is Italian.

One of the Britons, Leslie Jane Ferrar, was treasurer to Prince Charles from 2015 to 2017 and now holds a number of non-executive and trustee roles, the Vatican said.

The other, Ruth May Kelly, served as secretary of state for education and for transport, and as minister for women and equality, in Britain's former Labour government from 2004-2008.

The other four women have backgrounds in business, banking and academia.

Francis established the Council for the Economy, which oversees budgets and sets policy, in 2014 as an international body to oversee often-troubled Vatican finances.

The new council is starting its work as the coronavirus pandemic has hit the Vatican's finances hard, forcing it to dip into reserve funds and implement some of the toughest cost control measures ever in the tiny city state.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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