First, it was a misleading tale about a cat that left the Tories spinning. This time, it’s a certain Fox that’s given the Prime Minister a headache. The story of the relationship between the Secretary of State for Defence and Adam Werritty began to unravel as the Conservative Party Conference drew to a close in Manchester. The blurring of the borders of Liam Fox’s social and business lives caused a lot of smoke to arise. After it emerged that the Defence Secretary was accompanied by his friend on eighteen out of his forty-eight international visits since taking up his post in May 2010, it was becoming less and less likely that he would maintain his position. It’s important to make the point that some of these trips were family holidays, a fact that most of the press have ignored. Nevertheless, it’s an extremely impressive statistic by all accounts.
However, although the insinuation of wrongdoing is firmly in place, what proof of illegality by Fox is currently in the public domain? Well, none. He may have conveniently forgotten bits of the ministerial code but as pointed out during PMQs on Wednesday, it is the Prime Minister that has the final judgement over cabinet rule-breaks. Not only that, but Liam Fox had the overwhelming support of both frontbench and backbench colleagues, particularly Mr Cameron. If the enquiry currently being undertaken by the civil service failed to uncover anything fishy, then this story would have to be forgotten and the media would have begun the hunt for their next animal-based Tory scandal. However, the gossip kept coming. Every day that went by, more stories dripped through and Mr Fox’s reputation began to evaporate into thin air.Although he may have stepped closely towards the line by globally handing out business cards that labelled him as an “advisor” to the Defence Secretary, Adam Werritty never crossed it by making any financial gain. Yet, there is still a large question mark over how he was financially able to follow his friend, the Secretary of State for Defence, around the world. He would have needed funding, and last night the source of that funding was rumoured to be a number of Liam Fox’s wealthy supporters. These donors have no interest in the Defence Secretary’s portfolio dealings, but back his ideological leanings. The most significant of these is the fact they are strongly eurosceptic.
According to the New Statesman, there was ‘too much mystery for Downing Street to bear’. If this gossip turns out to be true, it would not have cost Liam Fox his job, but it would have cost him major damage to his credibility and relationships within the coalition partnership. After a while, though, he couldn’t handle the strain. Cabinet sources claimed this morning that the MoD has adopted a “business as usual” attitude whilst senior civil servants question Adam Werritty and look through the records. In reality, Liam Fox is rumoured to have spent his morning reading through the week’s press, before drafting out his letter of resignation. He may not have broken the law in his position, but Cameron assured the public outside Downing Street in May last year to provide a new, honest type of politics to this country. Could Liam Fox really have stayed, considering this promise?
Callum Jones is a blogger and Student and contributor to the Huffington Post who has a keen interest in Politics and Current Affairs. He tweets @CallumJonesBlog and has his own personal blog http://callumjones.blog.com/