‘Hello Mr Penrose I have the Prime Minister on the line. Will you hold?’
It’s at moments like these that mobile phones matter, because I could see it was genuinely Downing Street, rather than one of my mates winding me up.
I hadn’t been expecting the call. But life is what happens when you make other plans, as John Lennon famously said.
I had been super-busy handling replies to my new policy paper, called ‘A Shining City upon a Hill; rebooting capitalism for the many not the few’. It’s got lots of people thinking about the kind of country we want to be once we’re out of the EU.
But, unsurprisingly, that wasn’t why the Prime Minister had called. She wanted me to serve as Minister of State for Northern Ireland.
I could hardly say no. The Brexit negotiations are down to the short strokes and, if the Brussels deal runs into trouble, the Northern Irish backstop will be where the action is. It’s a chance to make a difference and, in the end, that’s why I got into politics in the first place.
So I won’t be able to spread the ideas in ‘Shining City’ for a while. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to forget it. Once Brexit is over, we will need to take on bureaucracies and kleptocrats so the system works for the rest of us, particularly people under 45 who are struggling to afford basics like housing and utilities.
If you’re interested in how to deliver generational justice, create an economy that works for the many not the few, and deal with fake news, it’s on my website at www.johnpenrose.org.
Please check it out and let me know what you think!