We can be a new Britain after Brexit and pandemic storms with Yorkshire at vanguard – Penny Mordaunt

WHAT do you think about when you think of the values of Yorkshire folk? Honest (direct even), frugal, reliable, resilient, practical, friendly, not given to flights of fancy?

Penny Mordaunt is the Paymaster General and a Tory MP. A former Defence Secretary, she is the co-author of Greater: Britain After The Storm.


But then if I asked you to say what you thought of British values, how different from Yorkshire values would they be?

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In management speak, the Venn diagram would be a majority overlap. One of the things you can’t always see when living in Yorkshire is the extent to which Yorkshire values underpin British ones.

How close are Yorkshire's values aligned with those of Britain? Cabinet Office Minister Penny Mordaunt poses the question.

These values or characteristics matter because whether you voted for Brexit or not, we’re on the threshold of a new relationship with the world.

There are powerful competitors out there and if Britain wants to compete, it can’t be bigger than these players, it has to differentiate in other ways.

We cannot compete with superpowers on quantity or scale, so we need to do so on something else. We need to compete on quality.

Has Brexit changed Britian's values? Penny Mordaunt covers the issues in a new book five years after the UK voted to leave the European Union.

We can learn from the legacies of past here. No country on earth has done more for human rights. In that respect Britain can make a credible claim to being the most trusted nation on earth.

Trust really matters in our societies. People do not get educated if they don’t trust that it will stand them in good stead later.

They don’t stay in a community unless they can trust the healthcare services. They won’t vote for you if they don’t believe a word you say. Trust is therefore the bedrock of our belief in the future. When it goes, so does our faith in the future.

The other areas of leadership also reflect this. The trust allows us to be the largest exporter of financial services globally. It allows us run some of the biggest insurance markets globally. It’s at the heart of the NHS, one of the most highly regarded healthcare systems in the world.

Britain has half of the top 10 legal firms in the world, four of the top ten universities. No other G20 country has reduced its carbon footprint faster.

We lead the world in wind power. It is one of the most innovative nations, one of the most desirable for immigrants to come to, with one of the largest economies and despite all that we’ve been through, it remains one of the most generous. Sixty-four percent of us volunteer for a charity. Most of the people staffing vaccination centres were volunteers.

This lack of self-interest and genuine concern for others really matters because at the core of the British as well as Yorkshire brand is trust.

The notion that you do what you say you’re going to do. You can be relied on. Britain has just been through two major storms where trust was very important.

Firstly, the country told its government to leave the European Union and it did. Secondly, the country needed its government to protect it and get it out of the pandemic. It is doing this, too. With each passing day, we’re getting closer to normality.

This has not just been a ‘‘top-down’’ exercise. Protecting the NHS also means that ‘bottom-up’’ or communities are protected, too. Everyone relies on the NHS at some point in their life. It’s a fundamental part of the equality that underpins human rights. Illness can happen to anyone, so everyone should be able to have healthcare free at the point of delivery.

The question for us all is what happens next? To some extent, the direction of travel is clear. Brexit and Covid simply accelerated and deepened trends that were already there.

The central them of all these changes is modernisation.

Covid has forced us to learn new ways of working, shopping and interacting. It also highlighted the need for greater economic levelling up.

Again, the Covid cloud had a silver lining in that working from home brought fresh economic stimulus to rural locations. It’s early in the return to normality but many believe that trend will be irreversible.

Britain has been through some challenging times – the financial crisis, Brexit and most recently Covid.

At the height of the pandemic, there were dark times, when we lost many loved ones.

It is true, however, that you can only see the stars when it gets dark. Never was this truer than in what these difficult times revealed about our character.

Heraclitus said that character is destiny. Over the last year, I have seen so much to reassure and inspire me that our values are not only the right ones, but widely held and enduring.

They would’ve been recognisable to our grandparent’s, grandparents. My co-author, Chris Lewis, helped me shape this book with his practical, common sense, reliable approach.

He has robust views which are very different from my own. Without him though, my book would not have happened and it wouldn’t have had so much of the humour it has been praised for. No need to guess which county he comes from…

* Penny Mordaunt is the Paymaster General and a Tory MP. A former Defence Secretary, she is the co-author of Greater: Britain After The Storm.


Penny Mordaunt’s book calls for a “top-down as well as a bottom-up approach” to devolution – and debates about powers “should not be an excuse for dismissal or disinterest”.

It adds: “People want to help. But they think they can’t. This is why they’re frustrated at politics.

“Overcoming this will require a genuine commitment to solving the problem, rather than the more common Westminster bait-and-switch, which promises delivery before drowning it in complications.

“They key to gaining any m omentum outside of London is in how finance can be raised to make change happen.”

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