James Forsyth

Harman the hawk

Harman the hawk
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Harriet Harman’s response to David Cameron’s statement on the G8 and G20 was noticeable for her attacking the Prime Minister for talking about bringing British troops home from Afghanistan within five years. Her criticism was that talking about withdrawal undermined the troops in the field, she sounded more like John McCain than I ever expected Harriet Harman to. She chose to reinforce her point by using quotes from Liam Fox about the effect that timelines have on military morale.

Her use of the Fox quotes suggests that Labour see the Cameron Fox relationship as a weak point in the government. Certainly, Ben Brogan’s blog and Conservative Home’s description of the link between the PM and the Defence Secretary as the ‘Cabinet’s most troubled relationship’  have got people talking at Westminster.

Certainly, it is true that No 10 was not expecting Fox to announce the departure of the Chief of the Defence staff in a newspaper interview and were furious that he did so. There are also several people around Cameron who have a low opinion of Fox and have, in the past, not made much of a secret of that.

Fox is delivering a speech in Washington tomorrow on Afghanistan. I suspect many commentators will read it looking for evidence of a split between Fox and the home within five years position Cameron repeated at the weekend. The government should make sure that no one can find that. Otherwise, the Cameron Fox relationship will come under yet more scrutiny.