Liam Fox

🔥Liam Fox MP, aka “the disgraced former Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox”, is currently International Trade Minister and one of the leading Brexiters in the Cabinet. Whether he should ever have been allowed to return to front-line politics is another question – one that journalist John Elledge asks in a New Stateman piece that succinctly outlines his previous “mistakes”. In this he writes:

“He allowed his close friend and best man, Adam Werrity, to take up an unofficial and undeclared role in which he attended meetings at the Ministry of Defence without first obtaining security clearance. Werrity had access to Fox’s diary, printed business cards announcing himself as his advisor, and even joined him at meetings with foreign dignitariesAn investigation by then cabinet secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell found that Fox had shown a lack of judgement by blurring the lines between his official role and his personal friendships. His report concluded: “The disclosure outside the MoD of details about future visits overseas posed a degree of security risk not only to Dr Fox, but also to the accompanying official party.” Once upon a time a porous boundary between the personal and the professional, especially when it touched on matters of national security, was a breach big enough to end a career.”

Unabashed by the disgrace of his resignation, Fox went on to play a key role in the referendum campaign. Since then, his greatest Brexit hits include being ridiculed, even by No. 10, over his claim that UK businesses “don’t want to export” (a follow-up to his suggestion that they are “fat and lazy“).

Like many of his fellow Brexiters, Fox has frequently called for regulations, taxes and public spending to be cut. However, he has shown no objection to public spending in one area – his own expenses. He featured prominently in the Westminster expenses scandal of 2010, when it emerged that he had claimed more from the public purse than any other shadow minister. Fox had remortgaged his second home to pay for redecoration and claimed the higher interest repayments as expenses. Despite protesting that this represented “value for money”, he was ordered to pay back £22,500.

In January 2018, Fox suggested that post-Brexit Britain could join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade deal that has been heavily criticised for favouring the rights of corporations over those of citizens. Writing in the Guardian, Nick Dearden pulled apart this outlandish vision, noting that:

“TPP would limit dozens of powers which governments use to protect citizens and their environment, and push the balance further in favour of big business. It would extend the monopoly rights of big pharmaceutical corporations, cutting off the citizens of poorer countries from affordable life-saving drugs, while also making it harder for the NHS to negotiate cheaper prices for medicines. It would gut the ability of local government to use taxes to stimulate local farming and the local economy. The 5,000-page deal doesn’t even mention the words “climate change” but would make it harder for governments to introduce environmentally friendly policies.”.

Why would Fox want this? Dearden explains:

“Fox and his hard Brexit friends loathe the EU’s standards and regulations. Many of us already regard these standards as pandering to the interests of the corporations that lobby for them. But for people like Fox, they are far too high. The closer we step towards other trade blocs – the US and Pacific bloc in particular – the further we get from Europe. For Fox, deals such as TPP represent a long-term ambition to fundamentally reorient the UK away from the EU and towards a glorious low-regulation, ‘free market’ future.”

For Fox, it seems that “taking back control” has little to do with the democratic rights of UK citizens but is all about asserting the power of corporations.

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