Friday 24 February 2017

Vicar's daughter will need all the faith she can muster when crunch negotiations with Europe get under way

Mary Kenny

Mary Kenny

Brexit secretary David Davis. Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
Brexit secretary David Davis. Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

A few years ago, I spent an afternoon with David Davis - the new British Minister in charge of conducting the Brexit negotiations - and I thought him one of the most optimistic, grounded and positive politicians I have encountered. The optimism was particularly striking given his background. He was born to a single mother, Betty Brown, in York in 1948. His natural father abandoned Betty, and she was faced with the choice of an illegal abortion, an unwilling adoption, or the problems - and stigma, at that time - of bringing up her child alone. Bravely, she kept her son and he retained a life-long respect, as well as love, for his mother's fortitude.

Subsequently, Betty married Ronald Davis, a fitter's mate, and they moved to a poor part of south London. The family - which now included David's half-sister - had very little money, but there was warmth, love, and from his step-father, Ronald, a valued sense of fatherly care and mentoring.

David Davis talked a lot about how important a father's role was in family life - perhaps because his biological father never bothered with him. It was Ronald Davis, and also an encouraging step-grandfather (who had been a Jarrow marcher and a member of the Communist Party) who became young David's role models.

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