Thursday, May 26

Cameron Savaged Over Libya Incompetence



The Prime Minister’s record on defence and foreign affairs has been criticised in the second excerpt of Lord Ashcroft’s book, which is being serialised in the Daily Mail.

David Cameron has been accused of rank incompetence over his handling of Syria’s civil war. According to the new book, former Tory chairman Michael Ancram says Libya is Mr Cameron’s ‘Iraq’.

The country now is more dangerous than when the PM decided to topple Colonel Gaddafi, according to Lord Ancram. And Mr Cameron’s rocky relationship with his former chief of defence staff, General Sir David Richards is exposed.

According to the book, General Richards says he had to tell Mr Cameron that “being in the Combined Cadet Force at Eton” did not qualify him to decide the tactics of complex military operations.

At other times, the PM was at war with the defence chief, who disagreed with him strongly on strategy, the book explains. Downing Street is unlikely to comment on the fresh allegations.

On Monday it refused to “dignify” the book altogether – as tales of Mr Cameron’s purported excesses during his university days were plastered in the papers.

The Prime Minister is also under mounting pressure to explain when he was made aware about Lord Ashcroft’s “non-dom” tax status.

The billionaire Tory donor is alleging that Mr Cameron knew he had not given up the status in 2009, which allows wealthy people to limit the amount of tax they pay in the UK.

However, the Prime Minister has insisted he was not made aware about this until 2010 – prompting Labour to say there is a “serious question mark” about his statements.

The Opposition now wants Mr Cameron to “immediately clarify exactly when he first knew” about the peer’s financial affairs.

Mr Cameron did not speak to the media as he made his first public appearance since the allegations emerged – welcoming the Danish Prime Minister to Downing Street.

The book was co-authored by former Sunday Times political editor Isabel Oakeshott.

Asked if Lord Ashcroft claims Mr Cameron lied over the non-dom status, Oakeshott told Sky News: “Lord Ashcroft is very clear about the sequence of events and his recollection is what it is, he made notes at the time of the conversations that they had.

We don’t use the word ‘liar’ but I think ‘disingenuous’ would be a fair representation.

Oakeshott said the state of Lord Ashcroft’s tax affairs is a serious political story while salacious allegations about Mr Cameron’s past are a small anecdote – albeit one that has caught people’s imagination.

The Daily Mail described the book as Lord Ashcroft’s “revenge” for being denied a job in government after the 2010 election, but Oakeshott has denied this.

“Lord Ashcroft was always very clear right from the outset of this project that the book should be objective and even-handed,” she told Sky News.

She says that Mr Cameron is “absolutely fit” to be Prime Minister.