Some political comebacks succeed gloriously: there is always the example of Churchill, written off twice but returning to lead his country through World War 2. But most are of limited success, while some would have been best not attempted. Into the last category has fallen the disgraced former Defence Secretary Liam Fox.
It's soon to be Goodnight From Them
Fox, whom Young Dave should have sacked well before the Guardian caught him behaving with less than total propriety, has been inexplicably summoned back from well-deserved obscurity by Theresa May to be International Trade Secretary, helping to chart Britain’s free trade future, no longer shackled by those ghastly foreigners in Brussels.
This new-found cachet no doubt gave him star status as a guest of Thatcherite pressure group Conservative Way Forward, at whose meeting he spoke earlier this week. He may have believed Chatham House Rules prevailed, but the Murdoch Times clearly had other ideas, and his less than felicitous remarks about British business have not only made their way into today’s edition of the paper, they are the subject of its front page lead.
“UK business is too lazy and fat, says Liam Fox … Trade minister: executives prefer golf over work” reads the headline. Downing Street has already stressed that the comments are Fox’s personal opinions and do not form any part of Government policy. Which is probably as well, considering some of what he said.
“If you want to share in the prosperity of our country, you have a duty to contribute to the prosperity of our country”, he told, thus negating the idea of all that freedom. And there was more. “This country is not the free trading nation it once was. We have become too lazy, and too fat on our successes in previous generations”. And more.
“What is the point in reshaping global trade, what is the point in us going out and looking for new markets for the United Kingdom, if we don’t have the exporters to fill those markets?” Do we not have exporters any more? Did he check this first? On he went.
“We’ve got to change the culture in our country. People have got to stop thinking of exporting as an opportunity [!] and start thinking about it as a duty - companies who could be contributing to our national prosperity but choose not to because it might be too difficult or too time-consuming or because they can’t play golf on a Friday afternoon”.
Jo Maugham was not backward in coming forward with not just one, but four instances of Liam Fox on the golf course. Keith Burge - a company managing director - opined “I hope nobody suggests Liam Fox is lazy. Or fat. Or disgraced. Or incompetent. Or clueless. Because that would be rude”. And it got worse.
Richard Osman observed “Liam Fox has never run a business, never created wealth for anyone and never created a job in his life. So glad he feels free to lecture us”. And Piers Morgan reminded us that Fox was once so energetic, and not at all lazy, that he had claimed 3p for mileage in his constituency (a distance of 0.06 miles).
Liam Fox has shown that he is unfit for high office on more than one occasion. All that now remains is for Theresa May to acknowledge his talent - and sack the SOB forthwith.