DEMAND AN END TO POVERTY THIS GENERAL ELECTION
TAKE ACTION
Politics

'Get a grip' and act on reality, not prejudice, MP Liam Fox tells his Tory colleagues

Once defence secretary for David Cameron, Sir Liam Fox thinks attitudes in Westminster have to change – including on migration and the future of water

Liam Fox

Liam Fox. Image: Martin Dalton / Alamy Live News

A whirlwind six weeks looms for Sir Liam Fox and his Conservative colleagues fighting to keep their seats. As general election campaigning gets underway, the MP and former cabinet minister has spoken exclusively in this week’s Big Issue and called on his fellow politicians not to act on “instinct and prejudice” over “reality and empiricism”.

“Get a grip and make your judgements based on reality and empiricism, not on instinct and prejudice,” Liam Fox tells today’s Big Issue, out now. “The data is there and unless we want to fall back into an anti-Enlightenment society, we better wake up and not smell the coffee but read the figures.”

Fox was David Cameron’s first defence secretary, serving from 2010 until he resigned in 2011, after controversy about being accompanied on official Ministry of Defence trips by friend and lobbyist Adam Werrity. He later returned to Theresa May’s government as secretary of state for international trade, wrestling with the post-Brexit political landscape.

Now urging governments to make global water and food security a top priority, Fox thinks that, all too often, his peers in parliament politicise issues that should be seen as scientific fact.

“I still hear people on both the left and right of politics saying ‘I don’t believe in globalisation.’ Well, that’s nice, that’s like saying, ‘I don’t believe in nighttime.’

“In business they’ve understood globalisation much better than in the world of politics. Politicians don’t really like globalisation very much because it limits their ability to have an impact over their own domestic events.”

So Fox takes a different view on climate-related issues which includes migration, a situation he notes in his new book as being “made worse by simplistic rhetoric”. Rhetoric from government focuses on demonising people coming to our shores and “not the causes,” Fox admits.

“We have got to try to get our debate out of the weeds and start to focus on bigger issues, because those bigger issues will have a huge impact on us, whether we want to think about them or not.”

Liam Fox wrestles with these issues in his new book, The Coming Storm, which tells the story of water from how it arrived on Earth eons ago to how it influenced our evolution. It also points out potential pressure points regarding scarcity, global security and its importance in healthcare and climate change.

“When Boris [Johnson] relieved me of my cabinet duties in 2019, I decided to spend some time doing quality reading on climate,” Fox tells the Big Issue. “From my own position with a science background [Dr Fox was a GP before an MP], what did the science actually tell us?”

Being out of the thick of it helped Fox appreciate the bigger picture. “It’s not so much being outside as having the time. Government is very siloed. We think of our economics in one place, we think of security and risk in another and so on. We need to learn to join the dots.”

To read the full interview with Liam Fox, buy this week’s Big Issue. You can find your local vendor here.

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
People with learning disabilities need to make their voices heard on election day
Ismail Kaji of Mencap
Learning Disability Week 2024

People with learning disabilities need to make their voices heard on election day

'Great pity' major parties are ignoring poverty in election, says Alastair Campbell and Rory Stewart
Rory Stewart and Alastair Campbell
General election 2024

'Great pity' major parties are ignoring poverty in election, says Alastair Campbell and Rory Stewart

How Nigel Farage could become next Tory leader – and why we all should be concerned
General election 2024

How Nigel Farage could become next Tory leader – and why we all should be concerned

Even Nigel Farage wants to scrap the two-child benefit cap. When will Labour see sense?
General election 2024

Even Nigel Farage wants to scrap the two-child benefit cap. When will Labour see sense?

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know