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Friday, Jul 01, 2022

Boris Johnson critic Jeremy Wright knighted in birthday honours

Boris Johnson critic Jeremy Wright knighted in birthday honours

Euan Blair is awarded MBE, Arelene Foster becomes dame, and Rio Ferdinand and Damian Lewis recognised

The Conservative former attorney general Jeremy Wright, who this week called on Boris Johnson to resign, becomes a knight in the birthday honours list, while Euan Blair, the multimillionaire son of the former prime minister Tony Blair, is awarded an MBE.

Also on the list, released before the Queen’s platinum jubilee, is Arlene Foster, the former first minister in Northern Ireland, who becomes a dame. The football commentator Rio Ferdinand and the actor Damian Lewis are among sports and arts figures to be recognised.

Two of the most senior figures in the NHS, who became familiar faces on TV briefings during the pandemic, are given high honours. Prof Stephen Powis, the NHS England national medical director since 2018, is knighted, while the chief nursing officer in England, Ruth May, is made a dame. The chief executive of the pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca, Pascal Soriot, said he was “truly humbled” to be given a knighthood.

Arlene Foster, the former first minister of Northern Ireland and former leader of the DUP, has been made a dame for political and public service.

A record proportion of honours go to women – 51.5%, slightly higher than the previous record of 51.2% in 2015. The proportion of people from minority ethnic backgrounds is 13.3%, down from 15% last year.

The oldest recipient is Angela Redgrave, 104, a dance teacher for 70 years and the founder of the Bristol School for Dancing, who receives a British Empire Medal (BEM). Elena and Ruben Evans-Guillen, 11-year-old twins from Warrington, Cheshire, are the youngest ever recipients and receive BEMs after raising £50,000 for the NHS over the past three years.

Angela Redgrave, 104, from Bristol, has been awarded a British Empire Medal.

Wright, the MP for Kenilworth and Southam, is honoured for political service which, according to the citation, “helped the government steer through many thorny issues”, including Brexit. The announcement comes after he published a lengthy statement on Monday on his personal website saying the Partygate scandal was likely to cause “real and lasting damage” to the government’s reputation, and concluded “with regret” that Johnson should resign.

Euan Blair, 38, the founder and chief executive of the apprentice company Multiverse, which matches young people with apprenticeship routes into work, is awarded an MBE for services to education. He said: “It’s a real honour to receive this recognition, but it’s on behalf of an organisation full of people who are working tirelessly to build a truly outstanding alternative to university. Multiverse’s growth is testament to the power of apprenticeships to widen access to top jobs and give employers the skilled talent they need.”

Euan Blair, the founder and chief executive of Multiverse, has been awarded an MBE for services to education.

Blair, a Yale graduate, reportedly has a fortune of more than £160m.

Foster, the former DUP leader and a “big royalist”, said she was “hugely surprised and really delighted” at the honour. She did not expect people to call her by her new title, she said. “I’ll always be Arlene from Fermanagh.”

The highest awards of Companion of Honour go to the author Sir Salman Rushdie, the illustrator Sir Quentin Blake, and Dame Marina Warner, the lecturer, historian, critic and novelist who in 2017 became the first woman elected president of the Royal Society of Literature.

Sir Salman Rushdie has been made a Companion of Honour for services to literature.

Rushdie, 74, the author of The Satanic Verses and Midnight’s Children, expressed “surprise and delight” at the “extraordinary honour”. Blake, 89, best known for his collaboration with the author Roald Dahl, said it was an “enormous privilege” and meant he would set about new projects with “renewed effort and enthusiasm”.

Ian Rankin, best known for his novels featuring the fictional detective John Rebus, becomes a knight. The 62-year-old writer said it was “amazing to be honoured in this way”, though he added it “may not make writing my next book any easier”.

The fashion designer Stella McCartney receives a CBE for services to fashion and sustainability. There is also a CBE for Elisabeth Murdoch, an Arts Council member, for services to diversity in the arts and to charity. Also knighted is Nicholas Coleridge, chairman of the V&A Museum, co-chair of the platinum jubilee pageant and former chair of Condé Nast Britain.

Stella McCartney has been awarded a CBE for services to fashion and to sustainability.

Dame Susan Ion, a global expert in nuclear engineering, is awarded a GBE for fostering the next generation of engineers from underrepresented groups.

The Labour MP Stephen Timms is knighted for political and public service 12 years after he was stabbed at a constituency surgery, and said he continued to work with “undiminished enthusiasm”. Among other political figures recognised are the former minister and Conservative MP for Basingstoke, Maria Miller, and the Labour MP for Llanelli and shadow minister for international trade, Nia Griffith, who are made dames.

There is an MBE for the campaigner Tina Leslie, from Leeds, the founder of Freedom4Girls which tackles period poverty, who said the honour would make more people aware of the problem and that periods were still “a massive stigma and taboo”.

The abortion reform campaigner Sarah Ewart is awarded an OBE. She pressed for the liberalisation of Northern Ireland’s strict abortion laws after being denied a termination in the region following a diagnosis that her unborn child would die in the womb or shortly after birth.

The abortion reform campaigner Sarah Ewart has been awarded an OBE.

The honours list was released on the eve of the platinum jubilee celebrations. In a jubilee message, the Queen said: “Thank you to everyone who has been involved in convening communities, families, neighbours and friends to mark my platinum jubilee, in the United Kingdom and across the Commonwealth. I know that many happy memories will be created at these festive occasions.

“I continue to be inspired by the goodwill shown to me, and hope that the coming days will provide an opportunity to reflect on all that has been achieved during the last 70 years as we look to the future with confidence and enthusiasm.”

Johnson said: “This historic platinum jubilee is not only a celebration of the monarch but of the qualities she possesses. The honours she confers this week reflect many of those qualities that have been invaluable from all different walks of life and to communities across the UK. I pay tribute to all of this year’s winners. Their stories of courage and compassion are an inspiration to us all.”


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