A pre-eminent political journalist took boys at the Year 12 formal luncheon on a journey through pivotal moments of recent British history.
George Parker, Political Editor of the Financial Times, was the guest speaker at the annual meal, which is arranged to give sixth-formers experience of the sort of formal social occasions that will become more frequent at university and in their careers beyond.
Mr Parker, who has previously been named in the top five of the Press Gazette’s Top 50 Political Journalists, looked back at the end of the Thatcher era and touched on significant political events right through to Brexit.
Headmaster Neil Enright said: “He spoke entertainingly and in engaging fashion, relating anecdotes which kept the boys enthralled, and then answering their questions.”
Mr Parker told one light-hearted story about how a front-page story he had run with the FT on a new haircut of Tony Blair’s had sparked a minor media frenzy and a rebuke from No 10! He discussed weightier matters too, in particular talking about the Brexit negotiations, from the project’s very feasibility through to the possible economic benefits of a trade deal with the US.
He gave thoughtful answers to all the boys’ questions, which included whether the referendum had led to increasing xenophobia; whether the country is headed for a ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ Brexit, and whether he thought Brexit would happen at all. The FT is a very pro-Europe newspaper, the most widely read in Brussels, and Mr Parker predicted that the advantages of Brexit would be meagre. Other questions related to specific issues such as the desirability of the Government pursuing a balanced budget.
“It was a real pleasure to welcome him to the School,” said Mr Enright. “The boys clearly appreciated hearing his insights and had some very pertinent questions. This was another opportunity for them to benefit from a guest speaker’s expertise.”
The luncheon followed a format of a three-course meal, with Friends of Queen Elizabeth’s volunteers assisting the School’s catering team. This was followed by toasts and speeches. School Captain Aashish Khimasia presided over the occasion as master of ceremonies, leading the toasts to The Queen and the ‘loyal toast’ to Queen Elizabeth I; as is customary, this was taken in silence. One of the Senior Vice-Captains, Aditya Ravindrakumar, introduced Mr Parker, with Vice-Captain Parth Gosalia delivering the vote of thanks at the conclusion of the event.
“Mr Parker declared that he had enjoyed himself and said he was heading off to go and think about tomorrow’s front page!” said Mr Enright.