Liam Fox is set to take to the stage this afternoon to give a speech on the opportunities of free trade as part of the government’s roadmap to Brexit. Only the International Trade Secretary has already hit a bump in the road. The former permanent secretary at his department, Martin Donnelly, has launched a broadside attack on the government’s plans. He has likened leaving the EU single market and customs union to ‘rejecting a three-course meal now in favour of the promise of a packet of crisps later’.
Putting aside why Donnelly ever thought it would be a good idea to work in a department dedicated to free trade if he was so against it, Mr S can’t help but think that the timing is all rather suspect – with the intention to cause maximum embarrassment to Fox and the government.
Of course Donnelly would know how to create a big impact. Since leaving government he has been working at Teneo Blue Rubicon, the public affairs group. And who else works there? Well, David Cameron’s former director of comms – and ardent Remainer – Craig Oliver.
When Donnelly took the job Acoba said he would not do any ‘direct lobbying of the UK Government in any way as part of this role’. It seems he opted for some public lobbying instead…