MP Mike Wood asks Theresa May to congratulate Black Country flag designer

Prime Minister Theresa May has congratulated the young designer of the Black Country flag in parliament, following accusations that its imagery has racist connotations.

It comes after the flag - and the Express and Star - were criticised in the Commons on Tuesday by Wolverhampton South West MP Eleanor Smith, who said she had concerns about the use of chains in the flag as they are associated with the slave trade.

At PMQs, Mrs May was responding to a question from Dudley South Conservative MP Mike Wood, who asked:

"The Black Country flag has come under attack from the other side of this chamber in recent days. Will the Prime Minister join me in again congratulating Gracie Sheppard, who designed the flag when she was just 12 years old, reflecting our industrial heritage

"And does she agree that the latest figures showing the West Midlands as the fastest growing part of this country, shows once again that the Black Country remains a great place to do business?"

Mrs May told MPs: "He's absolutely right, the Black Country remains a great place to do business, and I'd like to congratulate Gracie on designing that flag at the age of only 12 years.

"And I have to say that I am sure that she and others, including the Express & Star, have been surprised at the attitude from the benches opposite on this particular issue.

"I commend both my honourable friend and my honourable friends in the Black Country, and indeed the Express & Star for the work that they are doing to promote the Black Country as that great place to do business, and to live and to bring up children like Gracie."

In her maiden parliamentary speech on Tuesday afternoon Ms Smith said:

"This flag has a link of chains as its primary image. I have had two concerns about the connotations of this image; its historical association with the slave trade, and whether it should be the only brand image for the Black Country."

She also insisted the Express and Star had 'misrepresented' her views.


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