Mehdi Hasan: More fallout from the Huhne resignation

Ed Davey's rise and the party's potential humiliation...

Matthew D'Ancona, one of the most well-informed commentators on the coalition, makes two important points on the fallout from the Huhne resignation in his Sunday Telegraph column today:

1) He identifies Ed Davey as a future Lib Dem leader, on the basis of the latter's promotion to the Cabinet and closeness to Clegg (a point I made on Andrew Neil's Daily Politics show on Friday):

Meet Ed Davey, our next deputy prime minister. Well, conceivably so. On Friday, Davey was promoted from the junior ranks of the Coalition to take the Cabinet seat vacated by Chris Huhne. In his new, politically prominent role as Energy and Climate Change Secretary, he will almost certainly come to be seen as a potential successor to Nick Clegg, whose so-called "Orange Book" brand of Lib Dem politics he shares. . . it is perfectly conceivable that the burly, smiling, anonymous figure you saw bouncing into high office on Friday will be a mere heartbeat away from the prime ministerial bicycle clips by the end of 2015. Today's political Pooter is tomorrow's dauphin. Of such minor tweaks of fate is history made.

2) He identifies how damaging the Huhne/Pryce trial will be for the Liberal Democrats and how much of a media circus it is bound to become:

The broader question raised by the Huhne saga is: who stands to lose? The former Energy Secretary strongly denies transferring speeding points to his then wife, Vicky Pryce, in March 2003. The trial will have a theatrical character quite distinct from its legal content. As one senior Government source puts it: "It's got the lot, hasn't it? The scorned wife, the ambitious Cabinet minister, a mistress, cloak and dagger with the press... there's nothing missing, really." What the Lib Dems fear is that the whole three-ring circus will revive folk memory of past Liberal scandal: the dark underbelly of the party's public piety.

Mehdi Hasan is a contributing writer for the New Statesman and the co-author of Ed: The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader. He was the New Statesman's senior editor (politics) from 2009-12.

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Cabinet audit: what does the appointment of Liam Fox as International Trade Secretary mean for policy?

The political and policy-based implications of the new Secretary of State for International Trade.

Only Nixon, it is said, could have gone to China. Only a politician with the impeccable Commie-bashing credentials of the 37th President had the political capital necessary to strike a deal with the People’s Republic of China.

Theresa May’s great hope is that only Liam Fox, the newly-installed Secretary of State for International Trade, has the Euro-bashing credentials to break the news to the Brexiteers that a deal between a post-Leave United Kingdom and China might be somewhat harder to negotiate than Vote Leave suggested.

The biggest item on the agenda: striking a deal that allows Britain to stay in the single market. Elsewhere, Fox should use his political capital with the Conservative right to wait longer to sign deals than a Remainer would have to, to avoid the United Kingdom being caught in a series of bad deals. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. He usually writes about politics.