Fox 'surpised everyone' by making WTO Shortlist, says Hunt

North Somerset MP Liam Fox has reached the next stage in a race to become Director-General of the World Trade Organisation - in the event that he is successful this could lead to him resigning as a member of parliament and triggering a parliamentary by-election in the seat. If successful it is likely that he would stand down and there would have to be a by-election, this would be a great opportunity to elect a new MP (hopefully a Liberal Democrat!) to truly represent the people of North Somerset.

On Friday (18th September 2020) WTO members indicated that the five candidates who should advance are Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria, Yoo Myung-hee of the Republic of Korea, Amina C. Mohamed of Kenya, Mohammad Maziad Al-Tuwaijri of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Liam Fox of the United Kingdom.

Upon hearing the news former Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said that Dr Fox "surprised everyone by getting into the second round".

The second phase of consultations will begin on 24 September and run until 6 October. During this time, members will be asked in the confidential consultations to express two preferences to the facilitators with an eye to bringing the number of candidates from five to two. Following this process, Ambassador Walker will call another Heads of Delegations meeting at which the results will be announced to the WTO membership. The timetable for the third and final round of consultations will be announced at that time.

The ultimate objective of this measured and clearly defined process is to secure a consensus decision by members on the next Director-General.

The process for selecting a new Director-General was triggered on 14 May when former Director-General Roberto Azevêdo informed WTO members he would be stepping down from his post one year before the expiry of his mandate. He subsequently left office on 31 August.  

Liam Fox, who as Minister for International Trade said a trade deal with the EU after Brexit would be "the easiest trade deal in history", oversaw the four-year gridlock in implementing a UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement and Trade Deal before being removed as a Cabinet Minister.

Dr Fox became infamous after the Adam Werrity International Trade Scandal, after which a report by then cabinet secretary, Sir Gus O'Donnell, found that Fox exposed himself and government officials to security risks by giving private businessman, Adam Werrity, access to his diary, and repeatedly leaving foreign powers with the impression that Werritty was part of the UK government, or was working for Fox in an official capacity.

Baroness Sarah Ludford, Lib Dem Peer, said: “Former UK trade sec Liam Fox is expected to be announced as Britain’s official nominee to run the WTO... a Brexiter with strong connections to the US Republican party. Mr Fox is regarded as a no-hoper among many in trade circles, especially in Brussels”

With all current elections delayed until next May due to Coronavirus, this could mean a long campaign period and North Somerset being without an MP for over 6 months. There's no need to wait for a by-election though, you can get involved in campaigning with the Liberal Democrats and donate to our fighting fund today.

Given his controversial past, it still seems unlikely that he will be successful but this is still one to watch! 

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