Rifkind_8As some visitors have started to discuss on this earlier thread, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, John Major’s last Foreign Secretary, has decided to return to the backbenches.  Sir Malcolm has issued the following statement:

"I am delighted that David Cameron has been elected Leader of the Conservative  Party. He will have my full and unqualified support.

Two weeks ago I indicated to him that it was my intention, over the next two or three years, to concentrate, in Parliament, on foreign policy and on Britain’s relations with Europe, with the United States, and with the wider international community. It is essential that the Conservative Party develops a strong, attractive and forward-looking policy on these issues.

I informed David that, in the event of him becoming Leader of the Party, I would be very happy to concentrate on foreign policy from within the Shadow Cabinet if that would be helpful. If, however, he had other plans in regard to this and other senior positions in the Shadow Cabinet, it would be my intention to work for the Party from the backbenches. This is what I now intend to do over the period ahead."

Editor’s Comment: "In other words Sir Malcolm wanted to be Shadow Foreign Secretary and has quit the frontbench when the job was given to William Hague.  He cannot realistically have expected to get this job, however.  David Cameron is a supporter of the war in Iraq and he could not have put an opponent of that necessary stage of the war on terror in such a position.  It would have been a recipe for conflict or deadlock.  Sir Malcolm’s expectations of such a post were as unrealistic as his leadership bid.  Sir Malcolm has a great brain and he promises to be loyal but I expect him to become a leading critic of Team Cameron’s policies on Iraq etc.  With Hague (Foreign Affairs), Fox (Defence), Osborne (Chancellor) and Davis (Home Affairs) there is going to be no retreat on Iraq etc from Cameron’s Tories."