After he had been invited on to The Andy Marr Show (tm) to tell the waiting masses how wonderfully the Government’s Brexit strategy is going, but managed not to tell anyone, the show’s host turned to ask the disgraced former minister Liam Fox, now inexplicably restored to the cabinet, about his party’s vice-chairman Ben Bradley. Bradley had blatantly libelled Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. But other Tories had smeared Jezza, too.
Disgraced MP is still a disgraced MP
Not least of these was Gavin “stupid boy” Williamson, who stated unequivocally that Corbyn had “betrayed his country”. The Private Pike of the cabinet would do well to check out the grovelling apology from his party vice-chairman on the use of that word. Bradley said “I fully accept that my statement was wholly untrue and false. I accept that I caused distress and upset to Jeremy Corbyn by my untrue and false allegations, suggesting he had betrayed his country by collaborating with foreign spies” [my emphasis].
On the basis of that statement, Williamson, who claimed “That he met foreign spies is a betrayal of this country. He cannot be trusted”, may be in line for another of those letters from Team Jezza’s lawyers, and he’ll have to do more than blub to Uncle Arthur about it. Nor did Fox exactly rule himself out of attracting lawyers’ attention after his shifty, sneering and not very superior response to Marr’s probing. Here’s what he had to say.
“I think that the Labour left, during the Cold War, were extremely unhelpful to this country … I don’t think that you can use the word ‘betray’ … I certainly think that the Labour left were the Soviet Union’s ‘useful idiots’ during that period”. So should Williamson apologise for using the B-word? “This is part of the lively debate that we have [!] … it’s not necessarily a word I would use, but I certainly believe, and I think it’s true, that Jeremy Corbyn - and others - were very useful to the Soviet Union during the Cold War”.
Make that two disgraced MPs
And why would that be? “Because they undermined the arguments of the West”. How this alleged undermining took place was not told. Meanwhile, Marr tried for one final time to get an answer from Fox on whether Williamson should apologise to Jezza. Here, again, is what Fox said in reply: “Well, I think in the broader sense, he was undermining the security of our country by siding with the Soviet Union in that argument, and I think that was very damaging to the country. Luckily it was our side of the arguments, not Jeremy Corbyn’s, that won the day”. Would Sir like to dig his way in a little deeper?
Sir certainly would. “I think he certainly undermined … the Labour left undermined the security of the United Kingdom by their one-sided disarmament and their very clear preference for a Soviet-style communism”. Exactly how that diverges from using words like “betrayal” and terms like “fellow traveller” is one for the lawyers to pore over.
Quite apart from Liam Fox’s ridiculous supposition that back bench opposition MPs can achieve what he claims Corbyn and others did, it looks very much as if his smearing of the Labour leader, and that of “Stupid Boy” Williamson, has veered over the defamation line. Now that Jezza’s lawyers have laid down a marker, those comments may interest them further. And the BBC transcript of the Marr Show chat will be available later.
Liam Fox should not be allowed anywhere near the levers of power. And on the basis of his latest appearance, nowhere near a TV studio either.