Hot on the heels of William Hague's endorsement of David Cameron comes the backing of Dr Fox (see The Sunday Times).
The Shadow Foreign Secretary (the first round choice of your Editor) is reported as saying that his decision was a “close call” but he wanted to see the leadership passed to the “next generation”.
Many of Dr Fox's leading supporters - John Hayes, Oliver Heald, Eleanor Laing, Stephen O'Brien and Gary Streeter - had already endorsed Mr Cameron. Dr Fox said:
“I set out a very clear agenda in my own leadership campaign that what I wanted to see was a Conservative party that was very robust on the economy and committed to wealth creation, that was willing to stand up strongly for Britain abroad, but wanted to be seen as more compassionate at home. I have decided to back David Cameron because I think the best approach for us to win is one of greater collective decision-making and leadership which accepts that it is important to return to a concept of first among equals.”
This talk of "collective leadership" will be very important. If IDS, Dr Fox, William Hague and Mr Davis play prominent roles in a Cameron team leadership there is likely to be strong positions in the war on terror and against drugs.
Dr Fox's reasons for backing Mr Cameron will be reassuring to Michael Gove MP. Early last week, Mr Gove, an early supporter of Mr Cameron, had identified five similarities between the Fox and Cameron campaigns:
1. Foreign Policy should be Idealist not Realist.
2. Let’s not wobble on the war.
3. We need a more meritocratic Britain. But that still isn’t enough to heal our broken society.
4. Don’t be afraid of the market.
5. Modernising doesn’t mean going soft – it means recognising how the world has changed.
The Sunday Times believes that Mr Cameron now enjoys the public support of 109 Tory MPs.
Writing for The Sunday Telegraph Mr Cameron promises to distance himself from the belligerence, vanity and lack of follow-through inherent in Blairism:
"The last thing Britain - or the Conservative Party - needs is more Blairism. I believe we need a new style of politics: thoughtful, measured and moderate. I believe we need serious long-term policy thinking to tackle the challenges we face. And I believe that if you give people more freedom and opportunity, they and society will grow stronger. That's the kind of leadership I offer, and I'm confident it will return our Party to government."