Presidential visit 'used to hide bad news'


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Indy Politics

Tory strategists were last night accused of using the visit of Barack Obama to bury "bad news".

The news in question is David Cameron having handed a Government post to controversial Tory donor Lord Ashcroft, provoking a bitter coalition row with the Liberal Democrats. Within hours, Lord Wei announced his resignation as Mr Cameron's Big Society "czar", just a day after the PM's fourth try at relaunching his pet project.

Mr Cameron over-ruled strong objections from the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to appoint Lord Ashcroft to conduct a review of Britain's military bases in Cyprus.

A briefing document for MoD press officers anticipated questions from reporters about the announcement being made at the same time as Mr Obama's visit. Press officers were advised to point out that the announcement had to await the conclusion of Cypriot elections on Sunday and there was a desire to begin work "as soon as possible".

The resignation of Lord Wei, who had already cut his hours to spend more time with his family, is a bitter blow to the Prime Minister.

He said he would now be working with the Community Foundation Network to drive "practical development of Big Society ideas".

Liberal Democrat peer Lord Oakeshott said: "It's silly to think you can bury really bad news just because Obama is visiting."