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Tue, 27 October 2020

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Local Politicians In A Small Welsh Town Are Furious Claire Fox Is Using Its Name As She Enters The House Of Lords

Local Politicians In A Small Welsh Town Are Furious Claire Fox Is Using Its Name As She Enters The House Of Lords

Baroness Fox is introduced in the House of Lords

4 min read

Local politicians in a small north Wales town have written a furious letter to Boris Johnson after Claire Fox was installed in the House of Lords as Baroness Fox of Buckley.

Members of Buckley Town Council contacted the PM because they said they "could not say nothing and suggest approval" when the former Brexit Party MEP revealed her choice of title. 

Mr Johnson's decision to award Baroness Fox a peerage has been heavily criticised, largely due to her refusal to condemn IRA attacks on Birmingham, Brighton and Warrington while a member of the Revolutionary Communist Party in the 1980s.

The party's position was "we support unconditionally the right of the Irish people to carry out their struggle for national liberation in whatever way they choose".  Baroness Fox has since refused to disassociate herself from the comments or apologise, although said she had "great sympathy" for the families of victims and "does not condone violence".

Cllr Arnold Woolley, who is the mayor of Buckley in Flintshire, north east Wales, told PoliticsHome: "It is her general political background comments, particuarly her comments at the time of the Warrington bombing, which she has never, ever withdrawn or regretted, which sound repugnant to most people.

"It was discussed in the town council and the unanimous feeling was that to link Buckley with that, and for us to say nothing - which might suggest a mark of approval - was not appropriate."

Cllr Woolley said while Baroness Fox spent some of her early years in Buckley, she attended a high school in another town and "vanished off the face of the earth as far as Buckley was concerned".

The town council's letter, sent after members discovered there was no formal mechanism through which they could object to the use of their town's name, reads: "The town council is surprised that no formal communcation was received with regard to the above lady taking the title of the town of Buckley in her letters patent, to seek the town council's opinion on the use of the town's name in her title.

"The town council wishes to inform you that it renounces any association of Baroness Fox with Buckley and disassociates itself from her title.

"The actions of the said lady, in the past, do not associate with the values of Buckley or the town council."

Several peers are understood to have deliberately stayed away from the chamber for Baroness Fox's introduction on Thursday, including Conservative Lord Lexden - a former adviser to ex-shadow Northern Ireland secretary Airey Neave, who was killed by a car bomb outside the House of Commons.

"I have made sure that I shall be absent for this introduction," he told PoliticsHome.

"I have expressed my abhorrence at this peerage on a number of occasions.

"Sadly, there is no way in which those who believe that an IRA apologist - who has disgraced herself in other ways too - should not be a member of the Lords can seek to block admission."

Fellow Conservative Lord Tebbit, who also voiced concerns about the appointment, said he had not made direct representations to the PM because he "did not think there would be any point".

"I don't think she will add very much to the wisdom of the House of Lords," he added.

Baroness Fox's introduction was sponsored by Labour peer Maurice Glasman, a fellow Brexiteer - a move one of his colleagues described as "shocking".

"The House of Lords is a funny place - there are lots of often quite stark differences of opinion, but this is off the scale," they added.

"The House likes people to do things properly and respect the institutions of society. Her refusal even now to disown those [IRA] comments makes people very angry.  And it's across the board."

Another Labour insider said: "It’s well known that [Lord Glasman] prides himself on being a bit unconventional but this clearly misreads a much bigger room."

The prime minister has ignored numerous calls to step in and halt Baroness Fox's appointment, with a Number 10 spokesman previously saying: "Claire Fox has addressed her historic comments about the Troubles and acknowledged the pain that the families of the victims of terrorism have faced.

"She is not a Conservative peer, and her political views will differ from those of the Conservative Government."

Warrington North MP Charlotte Nichols, who previously called for Mr Johnson to intervene, tweeted following Baroness Fox's introduction: "Utterly disgraceful to see Claire Fox sworn into the House of Lords today. Boris Johnson had the final say on her peerage and did nothing to block it, despite all the hurt it has caused in Warrington."

PoliticsHome has contacted Baroness Fox for comment.

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