SE Cambs MP Jim Paice reflects on tumultuous week at Westminster

A TUMULTUOUS week for South East Cambs MP Jim Paice began with his high-profile sacking as farming minister but ended with the announcement that he was to be knighted.

Mr Paice was speaking to the Ely Standard at an event in the city to raise awareness of guide dogs for the blind, and he admitted being given the chance to try out a long cane under a blindfold was somewhat daunting.

He said: “There is no doubt that it is extremely challenging for people who are blind and visually impaired to make their way around a busy city like Ely and I had a real sense of that under the blindfold.

“Although I know the city well and could picture where I was going, that is not always the case for people using a long cane or a guide dog and today was about raising awareness of the challenges they face.”

Mr Paice, who has been an MP for a quarter of a century, was at an agricultural show in Birmingham on Tuesday when he received the call informing him that he was to be sacked as farming minister after two-and-a-half-years and sent to the back benches.

But, it is often said that 24 hours is a long time in politics and, just a day later, the 63-year-old said he was “delighted” when he was informed he was to be knighted, despite the “disappointing circumstances”.

Mr Paice said: “Obviously I’m delighted to receive such an honour and the fact that the work and support of my wife was also recognised is something I am very pleased with, too.

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“I cannot deny that I am disappointed with the circumstances of it because being Minister of Agriculture and Food was a role I enjoyed and farming is something that will always mean a great deal to me.

“However, as I have said, it has been a privilege to have served on the front bench and I am looking forward to spending time with my family and out in my constituency.”

Asked how his family had reacted when they heard he was to be knighted, he added: “They have asked whether it should be ‘Sir Dad’ from now on.”