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Sir Gavin Williamson resigns as Cabinet Office Minister

Last night, Sir Gavin Williamson wrote to Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak to offer his letter of resignation. It comes after accusations that claim Williamson has been abusive towards other Members of Parliament and Civil servants.

The news will come as a further blow to Rishi Sunak, who is now set to face further scrutiny about his cabinet appointments only a couple of weeks ago. The re-appointment of Williamson, who in the past had been fired by Theresa May as Defence Secretary and by Boris Johnson as Education Secretary, now looks to be one that has backfired.

The reasons for his resignation

Over the last couple of years, Williamson has constantly had to defend himself against accusations of bullying. The most recent accusation came from a Civil Servant who claims that Williamson told them to “slit your throat” and “jump out of the window” while he was Defence Secretary.

The civil servant in question put in a formal complaint to the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS) which made Williamson’s position untenable on the back of other, similar accusations.

Most notably, former Chief Whip, Wendy Morton received a barrage of abuse from Williamson via text message about the decision not to invite him to the Queen’s funeral. The text messages read: “It’s very clear how you are going to treat a number of us which is very stupid and you are showing f*** all interest in pulling things together.”

“You are using her death to punish people who are supportive, absolutely disgusting.”

“Well, let’s see how many more times you f*** us all over. There is a price for everything.”

These messages came on the back of Morton telling Williamson that there was an extremely limited number of tickets.

On the back of these messages, Morton also submitted a complaint to the ICGS.

The final nail in the coffin

These allegations alone would have been enough for Williamson to resign or for Sunak to fire one of his strongest allies. However, the final nail in the coffin came from his former Deputy Chief Whip, Anne Milton.

Williamson served as the Government’s Chief Whip between 2016-17, at which point Milton was his deputy. She has claimed that Williamson used gossip about MPs’ personal lives and mental health battles as “leverage” against them.

She said that his overall behaviour as Chief Whip was “intimidating” and “threatening.” She even claims that he modelled himself on Francis Urquhart from House of Cards in an interview with Channel 4 News.

Gavin Williamson has been compared to House of Cards character Frances Urq
Gavin Williamson has been compared to House of Cards character Frances Urquhart

The Prime Minister’s response

Rishi Sunak accepted Williamson’s resignation after describing the leaked text messages as “not acceptable.” During his acceptance letter, Sunak wrote: “It is with great sadness that I accept your resignation. I know your commitment to successive Conservative governments and the party over the years has been unwavering.

“I support your decision to step back and understand why you have taken it.

“I would like to thank you for your personal support and loyalty. I know you will continue to represent your constituents with diligence and care.”

PMQs showdown

During Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday afternoon, Labour Leader, Sir Keir Starmer, did not waste any time in sticking the knife into Sunak about Williamson and his decision to re-appoint the shamed MP.

Starmer said: “The truth is simple, Gavin Williamson is a pathetic bully, but he would never get away with it if people like the Prime Minister didn’t hand him power.

Starmer then asked Sunak directly if he regretted appointing Williamson as a government minister, to which the Prime Minister replied: “I obviously regret appointing someone who has had to resign in these circumstances but I think what the British people would like to know is when situations like this arise, that they will be dealt with properly.”

Sunak went on to tell the rest of the House that Williamson was “absolutely right” to resign while he tries to clear his name.

Final thought

Rishi Sunak’s Ministerial appointments continue to look less thought through by the day.

While Suella Braverman somehow clings on to her job as Home Secretary, Sir Gavin Williamson has not been able to. Sunak’s poor judgement may well be his undoing in the long run as he looks to establish confidence and trust from the electorate.

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