An impressive turnout in the Churchill Room of the Carlton Club last night for Liam Fox’s New Year drinks. My eyes in the room reports that a smiling Liam claimed he had ‘invited 180 people’ and 162 had turned up. Interestingly, the big beasts came out for the former Defence Secretary, who is said to be eyeing a political comeback. Chancellor George Osborne stopped by, as did Party Chairman Grant Shapps, and Chris Grayling joined the party together with ‘a smattering of Whips’. Though he was left high and dry by colleagues during the scandal that ended his frontbench career in October 2011, his friends were back for the free bar and mini fish and chips.

If anyone was in any doubt that Fox still has his eye on higher things, then his Thatcherite tub-thumping speech – a call for ‘aspiration and opportunity’ – would have put those doubts to rest fairly rapidly. ‘As a party we must help people up from the bottom rung to the second rung as much as we help those at the top’, he proclaimed. No doubt Dave will be delighted with the advice.

Tags: Chris Grayling, Conservatives, David Cameron, George Osborne, Grant Shapps, Liam Fox, UK politics