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Daily View: What now for Liam Fox?

Clare Spencer | 08:50 UK time, Monday, 10 October 2011

Liam Fox


Ahead of an internal inquiry today about the working relationship between the Defence Secretary Liam Fox and his friend Adam Werritty, commentators mull over what will become of Mr Fox.

The Guardian's editorial focuses on what this debacle will mean for the Prime Minister David Cameron:

"After the past week's bluster and half-truths from his defence secretary, Mr Cameron faces a tough call on Monday morning. Whatever the interim reports from Dr Fox's permanent secretary and Sir Gus O'Donnell contain, the minister's reputation, and that of the coalition, has been tarnished. Dr Fox has some protection: there is no obvious alternative to him as the architect of demanding and unpopular budget cuts."

Oliver Wright suggests in the Independent that David Cameron has motivation to keep Liam Fox close to him:

"Mr Fox is the highest profile rightwinger in the Government. As a minister he is bound by collective responsibility, but if he were to leave office he would be free to speak his mind and emerge as the de facto leader of the anti-Coalition movement inside the Tory parliamentary party. That would spell trouble down the line for the Government."

Meanwhile, Benedict Brogan says in the Telegraph that the fiasco is "a bit weird" but not worth resigning over:

"The easy charge to make against him is foolishness, for involving his best man in his professional life, and allowing Adam Werrity to parade himself as his Commons adviser (note, not his ministerial adviser). He was overindulgent, and unwise, certainly. As he said in his apology, it 'gave the impression of wrongdoing'. And - let's say it - there's something a bit weird about allowing your mate to hang around the office. But I can well imagine Dr Fox being oblivious to the problem. Labour have successfully got up the idea that national security was in some way put at risk, when plainly it wasn't."

Also defending Liam Fox is Conservative Home's "the Lurcher" who says his acts are comparably OK:

"In terms of what's next for Fox, he deserves to be treated in the same way as other government members this parliament. At its worst, he agreed to attend a meeting at the request of a friend and was accompanied by the same friend on an unofficial trip. That seems to be significantly less harmful than Cameron's decision to take his friend Coulson into Downing Street despite receiving warnings about his activities at the NOTW. It also seems less severe than Vince Cable's foolish bragging about his war on Murdoch which led to him losing ministerial responsibility and the restructuring of two government departments."

Finally, the Times' Libby Purves says the saga prompts reflection on a wider, less public, but increasingly common dilemma about personal friendship:

"Real profit and advancement is regularly traded between 'friends' in this age of approved networking. Little courts, almost medieval in the unspoken pecking order and the need to ingratiate, are forever forming: I do not think they are subject to sufficient ridicule and distaste from the rest of us. Invisible glass walls can include and exclude with equal efficiency, and a seemingly innocent multifamily barbecue may solidify a political, business or media opportunity."

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