ConHome Diary: A Comeback for Dr Fox & Where's Theresa?

3 Jun 2016 at 13:59

Last week I wrote that I thought Andrea Leadsom had been a star of the Leave campaign. Let me this week sing the praises of Liam Fox. In terms of putting the Leave case, he has been calm, assured and believable. He hasn’t indulged in stoking up ‘Project Fear’ and has been excellent in head to head debates. This won’t have gone unnoticed in Downing Street, who, when the referendum is over will surely be looking to unite the party. One way of doing so may be to bring Liam Fox back into the cabinet. I’d say this was a possibility rather than a probability. After all, the way he was treated last time may well mean he’d tell them to sling their collective hooks. For those who don’t remember, having been asked if he would like to return to government he was called by Downing Street – not by the PM himself – and offered a Minister of State job at the Foreign Office. Indeed, it was the same job he had held as a young MP in the early 1990s. A total insult.
On the Remain side, people are asking what on earth has happened to Ken Clarke? I expected him to be on the TV 24-7 during this campaign, but I’ve barely seen him. Same for Michael Heseltine. Aren’t these the big beasts of the jungle who are most respected by the electorate. I suppose it’s possible that they are being saved up for the last two weeks, but it’s most odd that they haven’t appeared much so far. And while I think of it, what on earth has happened to Theresa May? Totally invisible in this campaign. Very odd for one of the big three cabinet ministers and someone who aspires to lead the Conservative Party. Perhaps she thinks that it’s least said soonest mended. She may be right,

Is the country actually being governed at the moment? I only ask because I can’t actually remember reading a news story about anything else but Brexit in the last two weeks.
On Wednesday I did an hour long live interview with Mark Regev, the new Israeli Ambassador to London. I first interviewed him on the late lamented 18 Doughty Street in 2006. I wrote at the time: “Anyone who heard him would have been impressed, regardless of where they stand on the current dispute. Calm, honest and assured he answered every question put to him with a dignity and honesty unusual in Government spin doctors. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him have a great future in Israeli politics.” I stand by every word. I may not agree with everything he says – it would be strange if I did – but if every Israeli spokesman had his capabilities, I suspect Israel might have a much better reputation in the world than it currently enjoys. He has a fascinating back story in that he arrived in Israel at the age of 22 to join the Socialist Zionist Movement. Latterly he was a spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry and has spent the last eight years as Benjamin Netanyahu’s official spokesman. London is a plumb diplomatic posting and I suspect will be a stepping stone, either to the Ambassadorship in Washington or to going into Israeli politics. It wouldn’t at all surprise me to see Mr Regev reach the top of Israel’s greasy pole.