John Redwood gets knighthood in New Year's Honours list

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John Redwood MP
Image caption,
Sir John has said the UK will be better-off outside the European Union

Veteran Conservative MP John Redwood has been knighted in the New Year Honours List.

The former cabinet minister and leading Brexiteer is among a number of MPs to be recognised for their political and public service.

Sir John, who has represented the Berkshire town of Wokingham since 1987, is opposed to Theresa May's EU deal.

Tory ex-minister Gary Streeter and long-serving Labour MP Alan Campbell have also received knighthoods.

Decisions on awards for political and public service are made by a committee independent of government.

While senior Conservative and Labour figures sit on the body, and it is chaired by a Conservative peer Lord Sherbourne, it has a majority of members who are not affiliated to any political party.

Nevertheless, in past years, the committee has been criticised for approving honours to party donors.

The unexpected award of a knighthood last month to the Conservative MP Sir John Hayes prompted speculation that Downing Street would seek to use honours as an incentive to persuade sceptical MPs to back the prime minister's Brexit deal.

But the 2018 New Year's List features comparatively few politicians compared with previous years and their positions on the Brexit deal are already well-known.

One of the most familiar figures in British politics, Sir John Redwood has played a leading role in Conservative debates over Europe and internal battles over four decades.

The 67-year old stood against John Major for the Conservative leadership in 1995, losing by 129 votes.

Two years earlier, the prime minister had described the then Welsh Secretary and other Eurosceptics in his cabinet as "bastards", in unguarded comments picked up by a microphone.

Image source, PA
Image caption,
Sir John has been at the heart of Conservative battles over Europe for four decades

Sir John, who became a councillor at the age of 21 and headed Margaret Thatcher's policy unit in the 1980s, is one of the leading free-market voices in his party and opponents of the UK's membership of the EU.

He has said he will vote against the terms of the UK's exit from the EU even if the controversial Northern Ireland backstop is removed, arguing that Brexit should be regarded as an opportunity not a threat.

Writing in his blog on Friday, he said the UK would "cash in" if it left without an agreement as it would not have to hand over £39bn to the EU and would be able to spend the money instead on public services.

Sir Gary Streeter, the MP for South West Devon since 1992, has already made clear that he will vote for the PM's Brexit agreement when it comes before Parliament next month.

A committed Christian, he told the Press Association that he hoped his honour came, in part, in recognition of his work over the past decade as chairman of the all-party group on Christians in Parliament and mentoring new MPs after their arrival at Westminster.

Sir Alan Campbell has been the Labour MP for Tynemouth since 1997. The former history teacher served as a minister under Gordon Brown and, for the past eight years, has been the party's deputy chief whip.

"My first priority has always been and still is my constituency and that includes issues around the regeneration of seaside and coastal towns," he told PA. "If this award is a recognition of that, then that is great."

Other recipients of awards include Andrew Fender, who served as a Labour member on Greater Manchester Council for 40 years, Gurinder Singh Josan, a member of the West Midlands Police and Crime strategy board and the long-serving Conservative MEP Geoffrey Van Orden. Each has become a CBE.