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The unsung hero of Brexit

Lord Digby | Published:

One of the traditions in the Jones households in both the Forest, Guernsey and Temple Grafton, Stratford-upon-Avon, is Saturday breakfast. Not the fare so much; my daily spelt porridge gives way to toast (and I’m a Marmite fan) at weekends but the berries are the same. No, it’s the leisurely reading of the newspapers over breakfast at the weekend that makes the tradition.

Anti- and pro-Brexit protesters fly flags outside the Houses of Parliament, (Picture by Yui Mok/PA Wire)

Dave from our village in Warwickshire will have delivered the papers by 6.30am, as he has done for all of the last 10 years, or I walk up to the local Co-op in the Forest to buy the papers and get my divi.

I celebrate a proper paper with pages to hold and turn; none of that online, iPad stuff in our Dickensian household (any day now we’ll be hearing that Mafeking’s been relieved). I can then properly indulge in a rant at most aspects of society that are revealed in the best that Wapping can produce.

But on a Saturday morning in June, another tradition overlays the breakfast newspaper ritual. On the Queen’s official birthday (the second Saturday in June, with Trooping the Colour thrown in) in between mouthfuls of granary or a blueberry or two, I pore over the detailed, full list of the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

It was good to see three Guernsey recipients of an honour from Her Majesty. But in among recognition for a sportswoman here and a soap actor there (let alone reading that a CBE has been awarded to someone whom I thought died ages ago), I always find plenty upon which to fulminate:

. Why do civil servants get major honours for just doing their job which (these days) pays the going rate and delivers a stupendous pension that is the envy of many in the private sector? (For the record, to fend off accusations of hypocrisy, my ‘K’ arrived in 2005 on its grateful recipient whilst at the CBI, for services to charity as well as to business).

. Why is the laudable clampdown on honours for donations to political parties delivering the unintended consequence of preventing deserved senior recognition for people who have done some fabulous work in the charitable or business space but who have also been relatively minor donors to a party?

u How marvellous it is to see an honour given to the lollipop lady from Lytham who’s watched kids across the road to school come rain or shine for decades.

. My imagination can run riot with wonderings as to what has been done for an unknown name with no named department to receive an OBE ‘for Services to Defence’. Presumably stating that the recipient comes from Poole or Hereford would give the game away.

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. I am fortunate to know many of the recipients (the majority only en passant) and it is always a delight to learn that Fred, whom I’ve known for years and whose MBE for services to Norwegian aardvark sexing is not before time, has Alphonse as a middle name.

. An ‘absolutely right’ emerges from among the slurps of Nespresso’s best when I see a senior honour (maybe even a damehood or ‘K’) being bestowed on the teachers, heads and professors of our nation. These are the people in charge of developing the country’s greatest investment – its people, and especially the next generation.

They deserve all the encouragement available.

But there has been of late a notable absentee from both the Birthday and New Year honours lists.

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Dear reader, I offer up for senior recognition at the highest level (and then some)... the Great British Economy.

Bless it.

Business has been faced with appalling uncertainty as the tyranny of Parliament over the people endures over Brexit. Investment decisions have moved into the ‘let’s wait and see what happens’ box. Three years on and both the largest exporter/importer and the smallest one-woman-band in the land have no idea what will be happening in a few months’ time. How on Earth can plans be made and important decisions for the medium term be taken? And yet...

The nation’s wealth creators are faced with the prospect of the Scylla of a ‘f*** business’ Prime Minister on the one side and the Charybdis of a Marxist, business-hating alternative on the other. And yet...

Every day the Remainer propaganda machine (from the Brussels Broadcasting Corporation to the Financial Times, from the majority in Parliament to many a civil servant) pumps out the economic commentary and predictions of the ‘We’re all going to die’ variety.

And yet...

The trade war between America and China is evidently competing with an impending implosion of the euro as Italy heads for the fiscal rocks to bring all the economies of developed capitalism to a grinding halt. And yet...

And yet...

And yet...

. Which economy is delivering the highest rate of growth in the major EU economies?

. Which economy has the lowest rate of unemployment since 1975?

. Which economy has delivered consistently low inflation and interest rates for over a decade?

. Which economy has more people in work than ever in its history?

. Which economy has rid itself of a record deficit?

Notwithstanding all the slings and arrows thrown at it from so many different directions, often at the same time, the Good Old British Economy has delivered and continues to deliver every day, for everyone.

I know it’s a truth which is so inconvenient to those whose predictions of referendum-based Armageddon have been embarrassingly so much hot air, I appreciate that it doesn’t assist Corbyn and McDonnell in their efforts to turn the UK into Venezuela, but the fact of the matter is that the UK economy deserves the highest honour in the land ... and that really would be up there with our lollipop lady from Lytham.

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