Talking about his meeting in Dubai, attended by Adam Werritty but no civil servant, Fox said:
I think it was really just a mistake not to have somebody there but… we were sitting in a coffee lounge in a hotel, it was hardly a high security meeting.
But nonetheless, given this was a potential defence supplier – not as it turns out an actual defence supplier – it still should have had somebody there. It’s very easy to be careless but you pay a price for it.
His defence is unsurprising: it was a minor misdemeanour, exaggerated by the media. But more interesting is his open ambition to return to government:
I think for the moment I will enjoy having a little bit of extra time… I would certainly like to get back to the front bench. But how quickly is another matter.
Is he likely to return? Number 10 stressed this morning, as it has throughout, that David Cameron thinks Fox did a good job as defence secretary. But a spokesperson also added:
Well, he resigned only a few days ago.
Also telling is the fact that in Cameron’s letter to accept Fox’s resignation, he did not say anything along the lines of “I hope you are able to return soon” – which is what he told David Laws when he resigned as chief secretary to the Treasury. Sometimes the silence tells you everything.