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Daily View: Liam Fox's fate

Clare Spencer | 09:24 UK time, Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Liam Fox and David Cameron


Commentators continue to speculate about the fate of Defence Secretary Liam Fox.

Former Conservative MP Paul Goodman says in the Guardian that investigators should follow the money to determine Liam Fox's fate:

"Downing St is asking two key questions: has Adam Werritty made any money out of defence since May 2010 and if so, did the defence secretary know about it? If the answer to the first question turns out to be yes, Fox's troubles are not yet over. His critics will proclaim him a knave if he knew and a fool if he didn't.
"This is what the Fox hunt comes down to: neither the niceties of the ministerial code nor the number of private meetings with Werritty. They come down to cash, and if his friend hasn't profited then the mistakes Fox has apologised for don't merit resignation."

But the Telegraph's Benedict Brogan thinks there are a few other questions that need to be answered:

"This is the exposed flank: what has Mr Merritty been up to in his patron's name that his patron doesn't know about but should have prevented?
"Mr Cameron believes he has positioned him as best as possible: if Dr Fox survives, he owes the PM for his support; if he goes down, Mr Cameron can tell the Tory Right that he did his best. For the moment, though, it remains an argument about judgment, and that's a grey area."

Rachel Sylvester predicts in the Times that Liam Fox will be protected because he is a traditionalist:

"Mr Cameron is worried about upsetting Tory rightwingers. Dr Fox, who describes himself as a "free marketeer, Unionist, Eurosceptic and Atlanticist", is now the Cabinet's most vocal representative of his party's traditionalist wing. When Mr Cameron declared, a few months into his leadership, that the British "don't do flags on the front lawn", his one-time rival made clear to sympathetic MPs that, actually, he did."

In the Independent Steve Richards also thinks David Cameron is reluctant to get rid of Liam Fox but says that is because he is loyal, creating an admirable stability:

"The advantages of ministerial continuity are immense. Above all, ministers need time to acquire an authority within their department. Senior civil servants tend to regard their departments as personal fiefdoms visited fleetingly by precarious cabinet ministers. The officials are there for much longer, and security of tenure gives them a power that mere elected ministers can only dream of... an inherently unstable political context highlights the needs for more stable government. Whatever happens to Fox, Cameron has set an example for ministerial continuity and his successors should follow it whether they lead a coalition or not."

Finally, the Telegraph's Mary Riddell says the story has to be put in to perspective against the economic crisis:

"Such momentous times demand politicians who can be both masters of the universe and servants of the people. Instead, we are witnessing a re-run of the pygmy politics that brought the system into disrepute and convinced the public that the governing classes are dominated by self-serving figures neglectful of the public good. As the eurozone crisis intensifies, Mr Cameron urges other EU leaders "to take a big bazooka" to their problems. Meanwhile, the dominant story back home is whether the PM might, even now, take a big bazooka to his Defence Secretary. While the Fox hunt is hardly insignificant, it is little more than a Whitehall parlour game in comparison with the economic tsunami bearing down on Britain."

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