Liam Fox, MP born 22 September 1961 is a British medical doctor and Conservative Party politician who currently serves as the Secretary of State for Defence in the British cabinet and has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for the North Somerset constituency (previously Woodspring) since 1992.
Fox was born in East Kilbride, Scotland and studied medicine at the University of Glasgow. Fox worked as an NHS general practitioner (GP) in Nailsea, Somerset and served as a Civilian Army Medical Officer, which enabled him to see army life first-hand . He was elected as the Conservative MP for Woodspring at the 1992 general election. After holding several ministerial roles in John Major's Conservative government, Fox entered the shadow cabinet in 1999, holding the positions of Shadow Health Secretary (1999-2003), Conservative Party chairman (2003-05), Shadow Foreign Secretary (2005) and Shadow Defence Secretary (2005-10).
He stood in the 2005 Conservative leadership election, but was eliminated in the second round of voting. When the Conservatives entered government in 2010, Fox was appointed the Secretary of State for Defence
Fox was born and raised in East Kilbride, Scotland and brought up in a council house that his parents later bought. The along with his brother and two sisters he was educated in the state sector, he attended St. Bride's High School. He studied medicine at the University of Glasgow Medical School, graduating with MB ChB degrees in 1983. Fox is a general practitioner (he was a GP in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, before his election to Parliament), a former Civilian Army Medical Officer and Divisional Surgeon with St John Ambulance. He is a member of the Royal College of General Practitioners.
Whilst studying at the University of Glasgow, he was a member of the Dialectic Society and became president of the Glasgow University Conservative Association. From there he advanced through the Conservative ranks. Fox contested the Hairmyres Ward of East Kilbride District Council in May 1984, coming second – 210 votes – to the incumbent Labour Councillor, Ed McKenna.
While studying medicine at Glasgow University in the early 1980s, Fox resigned his position on the university's Students Representative Council (SRC) in protest at the council passing a motion condemning the decision of the university's Glasgow University Union (GUU) not to allow a gay students society to join the union. The SRC motion called both the union's decision and the explanations given for it "bigoted".
On 10 June 2005, he announced his engagement to longtime girlfriend Dr Jesme Baird, 37, a fellow doctor who works at the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation and is also an alumna of the University of Glasgow. They married at St Margaret's Church opposite Parliament on 17 December 2005.
Member of Parliament
His first attempt to get elected as an MP for a Scottish constituency ended in failure when he contested Roxburgh and Berwickshire in the 1987 general election. Thereafter, he sought and won nomination for the English constituency of Woodspring and was successful in being elected MP for that constituency at the 1992 general election.
A little over a year after his election in 1992, Fox was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Home Secretary, Michael Howard, in June 1993. Thereafter, in July 1994, he was appointed an Assistant Government Whip. Following a limited government reshuffle in November 1995, he was appointed a Lord Commissioner of Her Majesty's Treasury – a Senior Government Whip. He was Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office from 1996 to 1997.
In 1996, he brokered an accord in Sri Lanka, called the Fox Peace Plan, between Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge’s PA and the opposition UNP of Ranil Wickremesinghe, on a bipartisan approach for ending the ethnic war. However, little has happened since then to suggest that the various parties have acted in good faith in the interests of peace.
In June 1997, Fox was appointed Opposition Front Bench Spokesman on Constitutional Affairs. Between 1999 and 2003 he was the Shadow Secretary of State for Health.
In November 2003, Fox was appointed campaign manager for Michael Howard following the no-confidence vote against the Conservative leader, Iain Duncan Smith. Fox was made co-chairman of the party by Michael Howard when he became party leader in November 2003. After the 2005 general election he was promoted within the Shadow Cabinet to become Shadow Foreign Secretary. On 7 December 2005 he was moved to Defence by new Leader of the Opposition David Cameron MP.
His campaign theme for the 2005 leadership race was based on the "broken society" theme, which he says Conservatives can address by returning emphasis to marriage and reforming welfare.
In the initial ballot of Conservative MPs, on 18 October, he gained enough support (42 votes) to avoid coming last, and put himself through to the second ballot to be held two days later.
He was eliminated with 51 votes in third place behind David Cameron (90 votes) and David Davis (57 votes). Cameron, who eventually won the leadership election, gave Fox the role of Shadow Defence Secretary.
Secretary of State for Defence
He was appointed as Secretary of State for Defence in the cabinet of David Cameron on 12 May 2010 and that weekend flew out to Afghanistan with the Foreign Secretary, William Hague and the International Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell to see first hand the issues facing the troops based there.
In July 2010 he said that the dire state of the public finances meant the Armed Forces could no longer be equipped to cover every conceivable danger. He said that the strongest signal that it will have to give up one or more of these capabilities, which have been maintained at the same time as contributing to collective security pacts such as NATO. “We don’t have the money as a country to protect ourselves against every potential future threat,” he said. “We have to look at where we think the real risks will come from, where the real threats will come from and we need to deal with that accordingly. The Russians are not going to come over the European plain any day soon,” he added. Dr Fox’s admission casts doubt on the future of the 25,000 troops currently stationed in Germany. The Defence Secretary has previously said that he hoped to withdraw them at some point, leaving Britain without a presence in the country for the first time since 1945.
The Ministry of Defence is facing budget cuts of up to 8% over the next five years, according to some analysts, and the department is already grappling with a £37bn shortfall on programmes it has signed up to. The results of the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) are expected around the same time as the cross-Government comprehensive spending review, which will be published on 20 October. The defence industry is very concerned that the review is being led by budget concerns rather than military need. Speaking in September 2010 Fox said on the possibility of sharing aircraft carriers with the French Navy that "I think it is unrealistic to share an aircraft carrier but, in other areas like tactical lift we can see what we can do," Liam Fox, said at a meeting in Paris with Herve Morin. "I can't deny that there is an element of urgency added by budget concerns."
In September 2010 Fox in a private letter to David Cameron, Fox refuses to back any substantial reduction in the Armed Forces. He says it risks seriously damaging troops’ morale. The letter was written the night before a National Security Council (NSC) meeting on the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR). In the letter Fox wrote that: "Frankly this process is looking less and less defensible as a proper SDSR (Strategic Defence and Strategy Review) and more like a "super CSR" (Comprehensive Spending Review). If it continues on its current trajectory it is likely to have grave political consequences for us". Fox continued saying that "Our decisions today will limit severely the options available to this and all future governments. The range of operations that we can do today we will simply not be able to do in the future. In particular, it would place at risk"
In March 2011 Fox defended the decision to make 11,000 redundancies in the armed forces, insisting that personnel who have recently returned from Afghanistan will not be sacked. Cameron has conceded that axing around 5,000 personnel from the army, 3,300 from the Navy and 2,700 from the RAF will be difficult for those affected. Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) set out plans for reducing the size of the armed forces by 17,000 in total. Some of that number will be met by not replacing people who were retiring or leaving for other reasons. Defence officials said 11,000 personnel still face being redundant on a compulsory or voluntary basis. Dr Fox said it was essential that service personnel were made "fully aware of the options available and the timescales involved". "That means that a timetable needs to be adhered to for the sake of themselves and their families," he said. "It would simply be wrong to alter that timetable for the convenience of the Government.
In light of the 2011 Libyan protests Fox warned that Libya could end up split in two as Colonel Muammar Gaddafi unleashed the full fury of his military arsenal, sending warplanes and ground troops to attack rebel-held positions across the country. "We could see the Gaddafi forces centred around Tripoli," Dr Fox said. "We could see a de facto partition of the country.
After negative comments by Sir Simon Bryant and Sir Mark Stanhope, Secretary Fox said admirals and air marshals who have voiced concerns were giving strength to Col Muammar Gaddafi’s regime. He also warned that high-ranking members of the Armed Forces were facing the sack because the Government wanted to reduce bureaucracy by cutting “the star count”. The Daily Telegraph has learnt that the redundancies will include up 500 starred officers, equivalent to the rank of an Army brigadier and above. Dr Fox said: “We must be very careful, those of us who have authority in defence, when discussing the sustainability of a mission. People’s lives are at stake and there can only be one message that goes out on Libya.” Admiral Sir John “Sandy” Woodward, a former deputy chief of the defence staff, suggested Dr Fox was trying to blame military chiefs for “his own failings”. He said: “Of course the service chiefs should not be talking outside the MoD, but when politicians have got it so wrong they have no other choice.
Dr Fox is a registered shareholder of the medical educational firm Arrest Ltd. His estimated wealth is £1m.
Fox accepted a £50,000 donation from Jon Moulton, whose investment firm, Better Capital, later went on to own Gardner Aerospace, an aerospace metallic manufactured details supplier which includes component parts for both military and civilian aircraft. This potentially exposed Dr Fox to conflict of interest but neither Fox nor Moulton violated any rules with this donation. Since all Members of Parliament are required to state in what capacity they receive any donation Fox stated in his entry in the Register of Members’ Interests that he accepted the cash “in my capacity as Shadow Secretary of State for Defence”.