- Posted by Jonny hough
- On April 14, 2015
By Our Social Affairs correspondent
Financial Times Editor Lionel Barber was the guest of honour at a private dinner organised on Monday 13th April by the BritishSpanish Society at London’s Garrick Club.
Speaking without notes, Barber gave an incisive and entertaining speech, peppered with amusing anecdotes, entitled ‘Europe and the New Politics – the challenge for Spain and the UK’ and later engaged in an extensive question and answer session.
Drawing on his personal experience, and professional instincts, Barber gave a broadly upbeat assessment of the political and economic prospects in both countries, saying that British had got used to coalition government, while Spain was “not Greece” – a country important players in Europe were losing patience with.
On the subject of Scotland and Catalunya and the broader context of security in Europe, Barber warned of the dangers of divisive nationalisms and the challenges of restoring the accountability and credibility of democratic process, and managing relations with Putin’s Russia.
The dinner was attended by British and Spanish executives from the world of diplomacy, arts, politics, law, business, banking, and communications. Entities represented included BBVA, Santander,Telefonica, Ferrovial, Allen & Overy, Acciona, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the UK Construction Industry Council, Mitsui & Co Europe, and the Spanish Embassy in London.
The guest list also included former British ambassadors in Spain, Sir Stephen Wright and Dame Denise Holt; communications guru Patrick Harverson; the Chairman of the Critics’ Circle, Dance Section and National Dance Awards Graham Watts; Morlin Ellis, representative of the Iberian arts and visual arts charity ARTES; two members of the House of Lords, Lord Tristan Garel-Jones (Conservative) and Lord Brennan (Labour); Josep Suarez head of the Catalan delegation in the UK; and Hugh Elliot, Director of Communications at the Foreign Office.
In his welcome address, the Society’s Chairman Jimmy Burns, who is a member of the Garrick, thanked the Society’s principal corporate partners for their ongoing support for the scholarship programme, paid tribute to the editorship of his former FT colleague Barber, and described the newspaper as the best in the world, noting its motto, ‘Beyond Fear or Favour.’
The dinner was held as part of an ongoing programme of events celebrating the Society’s Centenary next year.
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