Chris Grayling’s latest wild assertion | David Mitchell

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The former transport minister has turned conservationist, but in a typically wrong-headed fashion

Quiz question: what did former cabinet minister Chris Grayling describe last week as “Britain’s favourite animal”? Answers on a postcard please. Obviously it’s a tough one for various reasons. So I’ll give you a clue: it’s an animal. And if you don’t think that’s much of a clue, you don’t know much about Chris Grayling.

He makes the question so tricky. It would be hard enough just trying to decide what actually is Britain’s favourite animal, because there are different ways of looking at it. Is it favourite in terms of the animals we most enjoy interacting with? So pets. In that case, dog and cat are the frontrunners, but which? And there are other sorts of favourite animal: the ones we most want to see at the zoo, the ones we approve of most in our national imagery, the ones our children read stories about, the wild ones in the countryside. Suddenly, elephants, lions, horses, rabbits, otters, foxes, eagles, kingfishers and owls are all in the frame.

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