A knighthood for 'services to the enlargement of the European Union'?
While politicians, commentators and the media continue to squabble over the ex-convicts, drug dealers and Tory donors included in the 2012 New Year's Honours List, one knighthood has gone unnoticed. Slipped in under the Departmental List (Diplomatic Service and Overseas) for the Order of St Michael and St George is the name of one Dr Michael Leigh. We are told that he is 'lately Director General, Enlargement, European Commission, Brussels'. He is appointed Knight Commander 'for services to the enlargement of the European Union'.
It will, of course, come as no great surprise that an 'independent committee' of the Civil Service would scrutine the case of Dr Leigh and find him entirely meritorious. It is even less surprising that the Cabinet Office, led by the Rt Hon Francis Maude, made the recommendation, and that the FCO honours committee supported it.
But it is the Prime Minister who puts the ultimate political stamp of approval on the Honours List before it is passed to the Queen. And here we have a Conservative Prime Minister bestowing one of the nation's highest honours 'for services to the enlargement of the European Union'.
While it may be true to say that the wider the EU goes, the deeper it cannot be, it is difficult to see how rewarding those who work for enlargement of the Union with its present 'ever-closer' political objective may reflect a eurosceptic disposition. How does it accord with the stated objective of 'repatriating' powers? How is it consistent with the professed desire to reform EU structures, diminish bureacracy and cut costs?
The Order of St Michael and St George is awarded 'to men and women who render extraordinary or important non-military service in a foreign country. It can also be conferred for important or loyal service in relation to foreign and Commonwealth affairs'. Those appointed to the Order are being rewarded 'for services rendered to the Crown in relation to the foreign affairs of the Empire'.
So we may deduce that the enlargement of the EU remains an 'important' FCO objective (and so the Crown's).
The Order's motto is Auspicium melioris ævi ('Token of a better age'). Its patron saints are the Archangel St Michael and St George. One of its primary symbols is that of St Michael trampling over Satan. It would be the perfect religio-political Order to which prominent eurosceptics might be appointed. Christopher Booker KCMG?
The Prime Minister said the 2012 New Year's Honours List reflects his aims for the 'Big Society': it accords with his 'strategic agenda'. By enlisting these honours for his over-arching political programme, it would appear that the present Conservative Prime Minister is committing his 'Big Society' government to the same foreign policy as every government since 1973 - that of incrementally surrendering the sovereignty of the United Kingdom to an ever-bigger supranational Union. And those who work to that end are handsomely rewarded with knighthoods. Not so much cash for honours, as trash for treason.