Monday, March 18, 2013

Friends of Fox Tout Brussels Negotiation Job

As Guido revealed in yesterday’s Sun on Sunday column, friends of Liam Fox are full of helpful suggestions for how the former Defence Secretary might return to the front-line. One idea being touted is that he could be sent to Europe as Dave’s chief negotiator for the promised EU relationship renegotiation. In his big speech on Europe last summer Fox insisted that “life outside the EU holds no terror”, so the move would certainly cheer up disillusioned Tory Eurosceptics, wary of the threat from UKIP. Clegg on the other hand…

Monday, March 11, 2013

Fox’s “Right Approach For Britain’s Economy”
Tells Osborne to Cut Tax and Spending

Guido headed down to the IEA this morning to hear Liam Fox’s much-trailed speech on “The right approach for Britain’s economy”. Naturally on his best behaviour, Fox called for tax and spending cuts, criticising the government for not doing enough to help wealth creators: “although the progress of the coalition is encouraging, we have spent and continue to spend too much. We need to encompass the concepts of aspiration and opportunity”. 

In that vein, Fox took two minutes to quote Thatcher’s classic “socialists always run out of other people’s money”. There was plenty of policy in the speech: freezing public spending for five years in order to save £345 billion, the “systematic dismantling of universal benefits”, a stamp duty discount for under 30s, and most interestingly a temporary five year abolition of Capital Gains Tax. His suggestion of “making socialism illegal” was, he admitted, unconstitutional. 

There were some choice words for the Chancellor; his reversal on the Tories’ inheritance tax pledge is by implication “deeply immoral”. The harshest criticism was for the Prime Mentalist: “History will judge Gordon Brown harshly. He spent with abandon, rolling out the socialist ideal, pushing the drug of welfare addiction. His tax and benefit system was an impenetrable labyrinth. The great socialist coup of the last decade was to make wealth an embarrassment. There is only taxpayer’s money and the government should keep its greedy hands off it”.

Fox flirted with UKIP’s Stuart Wheeler afterwards: Wheeler praising the speech as “terrific” and Fox gushing that he was enjoying the “consensus” between them. He took a conciliatory line with Cable, suggesting that they agreed on looking again at ringfencing departmental spending. Cable has since replied saying Fox’s speech was part of the Tory right’s “jihad” on public spending. Faced with questions about his leadership ambitions, Fox sighed that “the sheer inevitability if it makes it depressing”. He didn’t give an answer, though…

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fox Opens New Pilgrims Angle

A significant Pilgrims development from yesterday. Liam Fox suggested that unions are basing their calculations for facility time allocations – how many hours taxpayer funded trade unionists are allowed to spent on union acitivity – on a 40% exaggeration of the real figure:

“The picture may actually be worse than appears at face value since the Facility Time allocations – the delightfully obtuse name for official trade union activities — is based on full departmental headcounts not the union membership within a department. For example,the PCS website claims that there are “more than 55,000 members” within Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HM RC). Yet, elsewhere on their website they explain that the HM RC Facility Time allocation for the current year is being based on the departmental headcount of 75,456. In other words, they base their calculations for their union time – and ultimately public remuneration – on a 40% exaggeration of the actual number of members they actually serve.”

Potentially meaning that the unions are raking in huge amounts of taxpayer cash against the rules. This one has legs…

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Fox’s Penance

One of the more curious reshuffle rumours that Guido has heard is the idea that Liam Fox coud be brought back as Tory party chairman. As luck would have it he bumped into the good Doctor last night in one of Westminster’s quieter watering holes. Mr Werritty was charming too.

Sporting a pocket sized Union flag, Fox was clearly enjoying the Games and was very on message about their organisation, but he declared that he would not be coming back to frontline politics for “at least 18 months”. He’s apparently recharging his batteries and would turn down any job offered. That’s that then Dave. It’s fair to say he’s up to something though…

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Rehabilitation of Liam Fox Part I

With bright lights, cameras and TV Political Editors, it certainly looked like a comeback attempt from Liam Fox this morning. The excited glint in his eye and a new tie were only let down by the cheap polyester Union flag next to him. In many ways Fox had won before he reached the podium – the trail of his speech was enough to force the Prime Minister’s hand yesterday, triggering a U-turn on his dismissal of a referendum just hours previously. The first chance to question Fox since his cabinet departure proved more interesting…

Nick Robinson seemed horrified by Fox’s claim that he was not afraid of a post-EU Britain. “Why don’t you fear it?” pushed Robbo with terror in his voice. “Why are you not afraid of leaving?”. Asked if Dave would be happy about the intervention, Fox tried to avoid the politics. Apparently “we have to start thinking about life beyond the Westminster village”- somewhere the former Defence Secretary has spent plenty of time recently. Surely renegotiating would be impossible with LibDems? “Well it’s not easy.” Guido put it to the good doctor:

“One day people may look back at this speech as the first step towards an EU exit for the UK. Might we also look back at your first step toward politically recovery? Is taking on this cause part of your rehabilitation process for a return to high office?”

Suddenly the smile was gone. Fox replied with cold stare and chatter about the need to escape the prism of Westminster village, avoid petty personality politics, represent his constituents et cetera. So that’s a yes then.

The one time Tory leadership runner is clearly still very sore. “How do you feel?” asked Christopher Hope of the Telegraph like he was talking to a poorly aunt. “Do you wish you were back in government?”

“I don’t imagine I would be in the heart of government for about twenty-five minutes if I had given this speech.”

Apparently there aren’t “a huge amount of consolations” on the outside, but Fox said the freedom to speak out is one of them. Over to a serving Cabinet Minster to prove him wrong…

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Former Coalition Ministers Club

What becomes of disgraced coalition cabinet members after they are forced to resign? Well if this morning is anything to go by it seems they perform a pincer movement on George Osborne, calling for tax cuts.

If Huhne weighed in it would be a full house…

While there is an irony about Fox complaining it is too hard to sack people, he makes some good points in the FT:

The budget must confidently assert that capitalism works. But it doesn’t work if failure is rewarded as if it was success. …individual risk and effort is not rewarded when the UK government share of GDP has risen from 38 per cent in 1999 to 51 per cent in 2011, the effective top rate of tax is over 50 per cent, and CPI inflation for the last five years has averaged 3.5 per cent.To restore Britain’s competitiveness we must begin by deregulating the labour market. Political objections must be overridden.

In the GuardianDavid Laws follows up Monday’s Newsnight outing with a welcome call to speed up taking the poorest out of tax. He wants to put up taxes though to fund it. Hmm…

A cynical person might think this must be coordinated, but Guido isn’t so sure. There’s no doubt that Laws’ interventions are sanctioned by his leader, though Guido doubts the same can be said be said for Fox. Steve Hilton will like it, but No.11 sources seem rather relaxed about the whole affair this morning…

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Liam Fox Surfaces to Bang the Iran Drum

Intriguingly Liam Fox just surfaced on the Today programme. Asked about his resignation, he batted away the question:

“I’m still drawing my own conclusions, I’m still thinking about the events and responses… I’ve rediscovered the benefits of sleep and lunch and I’ve also realised how incredibly pigeon-holed you can get in departmental politics. Every downside has an upside.”

Fox was putting the beers away at last night’s TURC launch, but he made it very clear what he was really on the airwaves to talk about. Free from the constraints of high office, he was able to be far blunter about the Iran situation. Though he called on the Russians to get behind the sanctions, he didn’t sound very convinced of that prospect. Fox left no doubt about the consequences of blocking the Strait of Hormuz. The drum beat is getting louder…

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Exclusive: Liam Fox Returns for Senior Trade Union Role

Guido hears that the Trade Union Reform Campaign will announce this afternoon that Liam Fox has accepted a senior role in the group. Having virtually gone to ground since his resignation, he will be joining ten or so other MPs on their Parliamentary Council. Set up by Tories, TURC* is campaigning for more transparency in the union movement and an end to Pilgrims. Developing…

*For the record Neo-Guido advises the group on a pro-bono basis about social media.

UPDATE: The full Parliamentary Council is: Chairman Aidan Burley with Caroline Dinenage, Karen Bradley, Fiona Bruce, Nigel Adams, Liam Fox, Stuart Andrew, Alec Shelbrooke, David Morris, Dominic Raab.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Quote of the Day

Sorry


Seen Elsewhere

Does Europe Really Want Britain to Quit? | Nick Wood
Immigration Nation | Hopi Sen
Tories Choose Anti-Israel Candidate in Rochester | JC
Osborne’s Daycare Obsession is a Time Bomb | Kathy Gyngell
BBC Marr Pinko Trying to Ban the Queen | Speccie
Eric Hobsbawm: Companion of Dishonour | Standpoint
Guido Party Gossip | Iain Dale
Russell Brand Comes Out as 9/11 Truther | Guardian
Health Revolution is Underway | Fraser Nelson
UKIP Gets Professional | Red Box
Kelly Tolhurst Wins Rochester Open Primary | BBC


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Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann on Cameron’s refusal to pay the £1.7 billion EU bill by December 1st:

“Well, then he’s gonna pay on December 2nd”



Mycroft says:

Have you read the last bit of Animal Farm?

You know where the animals are looking through the Farmhouse window?

My TV screen was that window at lunch-time today.

Be careful, the sudden self-congratulatory tone, the slightly pudgy outline of indulgence and you become exactly what you should despise.

The jolly face of the Quisling Cameron poses for your camera has mesmerised and deceived you, you who were once not so deceived.

You were no firebrand, you were a damp squib in my opinion, sorry.

You need a damned good kick up the ahse!


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