As the clock ticks down to the moment when Young Dave sees the report on Defence Secretary Liam Fox land on his desk at 10 Downing Street, the hack diaspora is in less than one mind about this particular minister’s future. And Cameron’s decision may have been made easier by the latest revelations by both the Guardian and Telegraph today.
Indeed, the revelation by the Telegraph – no surprise, given they hold the CD in the plain wrapper with all the MPs’ expenses information – that Fox was paying his former flat-mate Adam Werritty as a researcher may be the icing on the ceremonial cake of dismissal. It will, as I pointed out yesterday, discredit Fox sufficiently to stop him becoming a focus of back-bench discontent.
But, as noted, the hacks are not of one mind over the affair. Over at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun, veteran pundit Trevor Kavanagh is in no doubt that Fox has to go, either voluntarily or by being caused to walk the plank. The celebrated Mr K makes his decision because of Fox’s perceived dishonesty and lack of transparency – in other words, he’s toast even before the latest revelations.
But over at the Daily Mail, the Dacre hackery is, not for the first time, playing both sides: while Peter McKay (the world’s worst columnist) waffles on and then characteristically throws in “Fox has denied rumours that he is gay” (we weren’t asking, thanks), his colleague James Chapman is deeply unhappy about the whole business, declaring “This Fox hunt is disgraceful”.
“It’s a campaign based more on a complicated and bitter legal dispute, as well as a tide of insinuation and innuendo, than fact” froths Chapman, who appears not to be up to speed with the modus operandi of his own paper. He is also having difficulty reading the Westminster runes: “Colleagues ... do not believe he has done anything wrong”. Try talking to some of them, Jimbo.
Even the Express has dedicated coverage to Fox’s predicament, and Martyn Brown appears to be tacking towards the “resignation or sack” position. And, like Kavanagh, he’s writing without seeing the latest revelations. There may be more: the Guardian and Telegraph aren’t about to put their cards face up on the table. It is with this background that Cameron has to make his decision.
Young Dave hasn’t yet had to summon one of his cabinet colleagues and leave them alone with the glass of scotch and loaded revolver, but on what we know already, and the possibility that there is more to come, today he has to do just that. And the air of doom around the Defence Secretary has just deepened.
Because Nadine Dorries (yes, it’s her again) has just given him her support: “I ... know him to be a good and decent man”. Thus the kiss of death.