DR Liam Fox is laying into the BBC for allegedly not being fully onside when it comes to reporting how marvellous Brexit is.
Ah, the Less Than Fantastic Mr Fox. Before going further, let’s remember what Fox wishes we would commit to convenient amnesia.
A good place to start refreshing our memory is a column John Elledge wrote for the New Statesman in February last year, which had the splendid sub-heading: “Or to give him his full title, the disgraced former defence secretary, Dr Liam Fox.”
Fox is the international trade secretary, which means it is his job to fly around the world glad-handing and grovelling in a bid to drum up post-Brexit trade. The Guardian’s John Crace – coiner of the now universal Maybot description for Theresa May – nicknames him the Flying Fox.
But why is he the former defence secretary, I hear you mumble over the cornflakes? Ah, let me explain in gleeful detail. He was forced to resign in disgrace, you see, after he allowed his close friend and best man, Adam Wettity, to take up an unofficial and undeclared role at his side. Mr Werrity attended Ministry of Defence meetings without first obtaining security clearance, had access to Fox’s diary and announced himself as his adviser.
After an investigation by then cabinet secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell declared that Fox had shown a lack of judgement and blurred the lines between his official role and his personal friendships, he was shown the door.
Sadly, in politics closed doors all too often swing open again. And now Fox makes up one third of the tripartite Let’s Sort Out This Brexit Shit department, alongside Boris Johnson and David Davis– the three Must-Get-Out-Of-Heres.
In this role, Fox isn’t happy with the BBC, having apparently mistaken the world’s most famous acronym for the Brexit Broadcasting Corporation. Speaking in the Commons, Fox said: “It does appear that some elements of our media would rather see Britain fail than Brexit succeed. I cannot recall a single time in recent times when I have seen good economic news that the BBC didn’t describe as ‘despite Brexit’.”
Ah, I can’t recall a single time in recent times when the sight of Fox didn’t bring me out in a rash, but we all have our crosses to bear.
Fox claims that negative reporting from the BBC – which is to say reporting that fails to spell out the full marvellousness of Brexit – is undermining his role.
Oh, come off it. That sounds like blame-shifting to me. Alistair Carmichael, the Liberal Democrat chief whip, made just that point in the Commons – adding that Fox was coming over like “Donald Trump without the perma-tan”.
An untanned Trump would be a curious sight indeed, and for some reason a giant slug springs to mind, but that is to be distracted by unnecessary horrors.
Only the other day, the never knowingly less than appalling Andrea Leadsom went on Newsnight and called for broadcasters to be “a bit patriotic” about Brexit. The funny thing is, I think it would be “a bit patriotic” of the BBC to stop inviting Mrs Leadsom onto Newsnight so that she can spout virulent nonsense, but it’s a free world and all that.
Bashing the BBC is a favourite sport of the right – and, as it happens, the left. You won’t have to look far to unearth a Jeremy Corbyn fanatic who believes that the BBC has yet to acknowledge the Labour leader’s full sainthood.
And on the other side, there is the Daily Express which this morning splutters over its soft-boiled eggs that the BBC is an institution “run by a clique of liberals… who are overwhelmingly pro-Remain”.
Whereas many of our newspapers are run by a clique of anti-liberals who are insanely hot for Brexit, and constantly report only one side of the argument.
As doubts and worries still swirl about what Brexit will mean and how it will happen – even if it will happen – it is right that the BBC should try to report all sides, not least in acknowledgement of the 48 per cent who voted to remain.
If it did anything less than that, it would be failing it its public duty.
As for Dr Liam Fox – frankly we shouldn’t listen to a word that man says. If politics had more of a moral core, he wouldn’t have found another job in government so easily. Sadly, cocking up in politics just seems to open more doors down the long and shabby corridor.