Fox hunting

What the papers are saying about the beleaguered defence secretary.

With the Prime Minister asking for the preliminary findings of an inquiry into Liam Fox's working relationship with Adam Werritty to be on his desk tomorrow morning, the position of the defence secretary looks precarious. This morning, the Observer produces video footage of Fox's meeting with the president of Sri Lanka last year at which Werritty was present, and which appears to contradict the defence secretary's earlier insistence that his friend and former flatmate had never attended any meetings with representatives of foreign governments.

The press pack has the scent of its quarry in its nostrils. Here's what the papers are saying about Mr Fox today.

Observer

Emails and video footage pile pressure on beleaguered Liam Fox: Film of Sri Lankan meeting and email exchange between friend and businessman undermine defence secretary's prior claims.

Sunday Times (£)

Cameron demands truth as Fox fights to keep defence job: The prime minister has launched an investigation into whether Liam Fox compromised national security by giving special access to his best man.

Sunday Telegraph

Liam Fox: I have nothing to hide over links with aide: Liam Fox has mounted a fightback in a bid to save his Cabinet job in a row over his working relationship with his self-styled adviser, Adam Werritty.

The questions Liam Fox must answer about his friend Adam Werritty.

Independent on Sunday

Fox adviser is involved in arms deals, says MoD source.

Jonathan Derbyshire is Managing Editor of Prospect. He was formerly Culture Editor of the New Statesman.

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PMQs review: Theresa May shows how her confidence has grown

After her Brexit speech, the PM declared of Jeremy Corbyn: "I've got a plan - he doesn't have a clue". 

The woman derided as “Theresa Maybe” believes she has neutralised that charge. Following her Brexit speech, Theresa May cut a far more confident figure at today's PMQs. Jeremy Corbyn inevitably devoted all six of his questions to Europe but failed to land a definitive blow.

He began by denouncing May for “sidelining parliament” at the very moment the UK was supposedly reclaiming sovereignty (though he yesterday praised her for guaranteeing MPs would get a vote). “It’s not so much the Iron Lady as the irony lady,” he quipped. But May, who has sometimes faltered against Corbyn, had a ready retort. The Labour leader, she noted, had denounced the government for planning to leave the single market while simultaneously seeking “access” to it. Yet “access”, she went on, was precisely what Corbyn had demanded (seemingly having confused it with full membership). "I've got a plan - he doesn't have a clue,” she declared.

When Corbyn recalled May’s economic warnings during the referendum (“Does she now disagree with herself?”), the PM was able to reply: “I said if we voted to leave the EU the sky would not fall in and look at what has happened to our economic situation since we voted to leave the EU”.

Corbyn’s subsequent question on whether May would pay for single market access was less wounding than it might have been because she has consistently refused to rule out budget contributions (though yesterday emphasised that the days of “vast” payments were over).

When the Labour leader ended by rightly hailing the contribution immigrants made to public services (“The real pressure on public services comes from a government that slashed billions”), May took full opportunity of the chance to have the last word, launching a full-frontal attack on his leadership and a defence of hers. “There is indeed a difference - when I look at the issue of Brexit or any other issues like the NHS or social care, I consider the issue, I set out my plan and I stick to it. It's called leadership, he should try it some time.”

For May, life will soon get harder. Once Article 50 is triggered, it is the EU 27, not the UK, that will take back control (the withdrawal agreement must be approved by at least 72 per cent of member states). With MPs now guaranteed a vote on the final outcome, parliament will also reassert itself. But for now, May can reflect with satisfaction on her strengthened position.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.