The Fox at bay

Lovely sketch by Simon Hoggart about Liam Fox’s extraordinary moral and linguistic contortions.

And then there is Liam Fox, who spoke to the Commons on Wednesday. What a farrago of self-regarding, self-congratulatory self-exculpation it was! He even contrived to tiptoe round the notion that he had done anything wrong. “The ministerial code has been found to be breached,” he said, as if it were like a hurricane battering a levee, a force of nature for which nobody is to blame.

And why had he come under attack? Because for more than a year, he had bent the rules, constantly and persistently, in the face of warnings from his most senior civil servants? Hardly. His fall was, in part, the result of machinations by unnamed enemies. It was the result of “personal vindictiveness and even hatred. That should worry all of us.”

Time and again he implied he was the victim. But all had not been lost. There had been a tidal wave of support and encouragement from everyone: fellow MPs and cabinet members, constituents, family and friends, and most of all from his wife, who had offered “grace, dignity and unstinting support”.

You would imagine that he had, through no fault of his own, contracted a life-threatening illness, his fear and pain swept aside by the kindness of everyone around him. “I may have done wrong, or possibly not,” he was saying. “That doesn’t matter because everybody loves me.”

The truth about Fox is that he’s a nasty, possibly sinister, neo-Con. And now he’s going to be a nasty, possibly sinister, problem for Cameron.