Saturday 10 December 2016

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

Published 16/07/2016 | 02:30

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.

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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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