The Returning Officer: Camels

In 1916, the Imperial Camel Corps was formed to suppress pro-Turkish tribes in Egypt and later saw service in Palestine. At least two MPs fought with the ICC. John Henry “Jack” Jones was Labour MP for Bolton (1945-50) and Rotherham (1950-62), having been a steel smelter, and he rose to the rank of regimental quartermaster sergeant. The other was Captain W F Strickland, a Tory MP for Coventry (1931-45).

In a debate in 1920, the president of the Board of Trade Robert Horne confirmed that 4,862,000 pounds of camel hair had been imported from Russia. John Newman, MP for Enfield (1910-18) and Finchley (1918-23), queried this: “Are there any camels in Russia?”

This article first appeared in the 09 April 2014 issue of the New Statesman, Anxiety nation

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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.