A bitter row broke out at the top of the Tory party last night after it emerged the PM had “snubbed” former Defence Secretary Liam Fox in his bid to head up the vital Intelligence and Security Committee.
Downing Street have revealed the new make up of the parliamentary group in charge of overseeing our security services today, more than three months later than expected.
Former International Development Minister Sir Alan Duncan and one time Attorney General Dominic Grieve will be joining the committee, with senior Tory MP Keith Simpson resuming his place on the spook monitoring body.
For Labour, George Howarth and Fiona Mactaggart have been reselected by the Prime Minister, joined by respected MP Gisela Stuart.
For the first time the SNP are represented on the committee, with their Westminster leader Angus Robertson filling the slot vacated by Liberal Democrat Sir Menzies Campbell.
In light of the PM’s announcement on Monday that he had given the ‘kill order’ for two British jihadis fighting in Syria, Downing Street had come under sustained pressure to get the cross-party group back up and running so they can investigate the government’s new drone assassination policy.
SunNation can reveal that Fox made it clear to David Cameron over the summer that he wished to use his expertise as a former Secretary of State for Defence to spearhead the committee’s important work.
Despite this overture, last night it emerged that Fox will not be joining the ISC at any level, contrary to Westminster speculation that he would be a shoo-in for the top job.
Supporters say that the 53-year-old Scotsman is “furious” at the “snub” and one ally even accused the PM of putting revenge for rebelling against the party line before national security considerations.
On Monday Fox was one of 37 backbench Tory MPs who voted against the government on a three line whip in a rebellion over the rules governing the upcoming EU referendum.
Labour joined with the hardline Eurosceptics to give Cameron his first Commons defeat since May’s general election.
However, a top government insider claims the decision not to appoint Fox was made before this week’s tetchy Commons showdown.
As Cameron’s first Defence Secretary in 2010, Fox was forced to resign after just eighteen months at the MoD over a toxic scandal involving his mysterious connection to a friend who passed himself off as his special adviser.
The ISC has been without a chairman since Sir Malcolm Rifkind resigned in February after getting caught in a lobbying sting.
The new chairman will be voted for by the full committee of nine members drawn from both the Commons and the Lords and appointed by the Prime Minister.
The favourites to get the job are Sir Alan Duncan and Dominic Grieve, but a Tory source is scathing of new nominees.
“Those appointed from Conservative side have no previous experience in a security related job,” they said.
“None have served in cabinet – this is unusual when looking through previous Chairs of the Committee who are normally former holders of Foreign, Home or Defence jobs.”
UKIP’s only MP Douglas Carswell added: “Surely the bigger question is can we have confidence in this committee of Westminster toadies to oversee our spooks?”
TAP – I admire Liam Fox’s consistent determination to keep fighting for British independence, despite all other considerations, including his own ambitions. If he could replace Cameron as leader, there might be hope of some kind of political revival in Britain. The arrival of Corbyn makes it essential that the Conservatives dump Cameron, and put in a leader who will work towards Britain becoming an independent country outside the EU. Corbyn has already sold out his previously claimed opposition to Britain’s EU membership. That lasted two minutes. Fox has been working on the eurosceptic side for decades on end. No doubt that’s why his reputation was assassinated in the media, without anyone being quite sure of what he was being accused. I should declare an interest to Tap Blog readers. In my days working as a self-motivated unpaid political activist, I was asked to work the media, and accompany Liam Fox during his campaign to win the Conservative leadership against Cameron in 2004/5. He lost the Parliamentary round, so I was stood down. Previous to that I had written leaflets and made posters for Nigel Farage in 2000, 2001, and subsequently assisted Iain Duncan Smith to block Portillo’s disloyal attacks in 2003 by running a deselection campaign in Chelsea and Kensington, preventing Blair from toppling IDS and getting ‘a key ally’ (Portillo) as leader of the opposition. Obviously my view of conventional politics has changed considerably since that time, but despite that, I still am interested in listening to Liam Fox’s views, and following his progress. He is a far more intelligent politician than most others in Westminster, and might have something to offer us, as otherwise, we are faced with almost universal evil coming from that quarter. He gets a rough ride in the media or gets ignored. That’s a sign I take of him being trustworthy. Am I being naive?