Fox's Failings

The other week Liam Fox celebrated his 50th. birthday, and entertained the icon of the right, Margaret Thatcher, as his star guest. As if it needed further endorsement, Lady Thatcher's presence - when she has been largely hidden from public view as a result of illness - will have unerlined Fox's position as the pre-eminent spokesman of the right. It all looks so much more fragile now.

Dr. Fox is under investigation for his relationship with Adam Werrity. That they are close friends is not in doubt. That Mr. Werrity has been using business cards calling himself an "official adviser" to the Defence Secretary when he is nothing of the sort is also not in doubt. Mr. Werrity was the sole employee of Atlantic Bridge, a neo-con organisation set up by Dr. Fox to promote the Atlantic alliance with American Republicans of similar outlook. Atlantic Bridge has just been wound up, following a Charity Commission report that stated it had not achieved any of its 'charitable' aims.

The FT today also reports on Mr. Werrity's presence at sensitive meetings regarding Libya. David Cameron has requested that the report being conducted into the propriety of Dr. Fox's relations with Mr. Werrity be on his desk by Monday morning. Clearly Mr. Cameron is in firefighting mode.

The current outlook looks grim for Dr. Fox. If the report clears him of any wrongdoing he will, of course, survive, albeit maimed by the Werrity affair. He and Mr. Cameron have no history of good relations. Both challengers for the Tory leadership in 2005 Mr. Cameron has been suspicious of some of the leaks and reports that have come out of the Ministry of Defence on Dr. Fox's watch.

As he awaits Mr. Cameron's reaction to the civil service report, Dr. Fox may just be wishing he had invested a little more time in cultivating a friendship with the Prime Minister, rather than setting himself up as a standard bearer for his opponents.


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