Fox overshadows Hammond's defence debut

Written by Total Politics has a free weekly Friday email bulletin. Follow this link to register. on 14 November 2011 in Diary
Philip Hammond stepped into the chamber for his first defence questions as secretary of state, but Liam Fox was there as well. And he is not about to be forgotten

It was defence secretary Philip Hammond's first attempt at departmental questions in the chamber. It should have been his moment – a tentative answer here, a hint about his direction there.

But from the backbenches, Liam Fox still managed to steal the show.

Sat four rows behind the new guy, Fox welcomed Hammond to the role.

"This is the first chance I've had to welcome my right honourable friend to his post," said the former defence secretary.

Fox inquired whether ground-to-air missiles might be used to protect London during next year's Olympics (probably knowing the answer in part).

Hammond had no choice but to agree. He admitted that ground-to-air missiles could be deployed at London Olympics if "deemed operationally necessary".

The exchange came after a story over the weekend that suggested the US has raised concerns about security at the London Olympics, including the potential for 500 FBI agents to be shipped over to protect US citizens.

Within minutes, Fox's question and Hammond's answer had appeared on the news bulletins.

When he resigned from the Ministry of Defence, Fox said that he would be "freer to say what I want".

It seems he wants to remain influential, if today's appearance is anything to go by.

Tags: Defence questions, Liam Fox, London Olympics, Philip Hammond

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