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17.10.11

Hammond promises ‘robust’ finances at MoD

The new Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond, has pledged to ensure “robust” finances at the Ministry of Defence, following the resignation of Liam Fox on Friday.

Fox resigned on Friday afternoon after facing weeks of pressure over his working relationship with his friend Adam Werritty.

In a statement on Friday, Hammond said: “This is a particularly important time for Defence. The priorities are the continuing operations overseas and the transformation of the way defence is organised.

“I look forward to picking up the baton from Liam and working closely with the Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary and International Development Secretary to ensure that our defences are robust and that the finances that lie behind them are equally robust.”

Fox is being investigated for having multiple meetings and overseas trips with Werritty, despite him having no official role. Werritty was also found to have handed out business cards stating he was Fox’s ‘advisor’.

Fox apologised in his resignation letter, saying: “I mistakenly allowed the distinction between my personal interest and my government activities to become blurred. The consequences of this have become clearer in recent days. I am very sorry for this.”

Prime Minister David Cameron responded to his resignation by saying: “I understand your reasons for deciding to resign as Defence Secretary, although I am very sorry to see you go. You can be proud of the difference you have made in your time in office, and in helping our party to return to Government.”

Some in the Ministry of Defence are concerned at the new leadership, and are seeking assurances that there will be no moves to a common European policy, or further cuts to the armed forces. Hammond is known to be a deficit hawk, and was originally going to be Chief Secretary to the Treasury – in charge of the cuts – before the Coalition agreement meant the post had to go to a Liberal Democrat.

Former Treasury minister Justine Greening has been appointed as the new Transport Secretary to replace Hammond. Chloe Smith has been named as Greening’s replacement as economic secretary to the Treasury.

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