Yesterday, Gavin Williamson, Eddie Redmayne’s evil older twin, was sacked from his role as Defence Secretary. This was due to the fact that he was allegedly the source of the leak from the National Security Council over the Huawei discussions, as I covered here.
This is a pretty serious blow for Mr. Williamson’s political career – nobody likes a snitch.
Who Is Gavin Williamson?
From many accounts, not the easiest man to get on with.
Keenly ambitious, Williamson has always had the air of someone who was using the political game more than he needed to. Almost all politicians have aspirations of power, for better or worse, and in order to get to those positions near the top you have to do some political manoeuvring – find some allies, get them to support you, a little of bit of ‘You scratch my back’ quid pro quo, etc.
Williamson, however, sounds as though he was practically Machiavellian in his political outlook.
Before his appointment as Def Sec (which is around 200% less cool than Def Jam), he was chief whip for the Conservatives – the man who kept MPs in line and enforces party discipline. While in that role, and I cannot stress how wonderful I find this piece of information, he kept a tarantula called Cronus on his desk.
The man is literally a Bond villain in the making.
Besides this, he was also closely linked to David Cameron’s inner circle, was at the forefront with the slightly shady deal with the DUP to ensure a Tory majority in 2017, and as Defence Secretary was often an irritant – he loudly lobbied for more military funding from the Treasury, and was ridiculed for telling Russia to “Shut up and go away.”
Even by the Tories’ esteemed standards in some quarters, he was quite something.
Why Is This Important?
A few reasons.
Firstly, it’s a power move by Theresa May. Def Sec is one of the most powerful positions in the cabinet and she has coldly and savagely removed a powerful chap from office. It’s quite a marker against Williamson, but it’s a rare show of strength from a PM who often looks like she’d rather be in an armchair doing a crossword puzzle.
Secondly, it’ll put the fear of god into the rest of her cabinet – not just because she’s shown she’s willing to be tough on those who disrespect her, but the systematic leaks from every cabinet meeting will now, it seems, no longer go unpunished. This isn’t great news for those who have been angling for her job by having a constant, direct line to journalists after every political get-together.
Finally, this isn’t over. Not by a long shot. Did you really think a man who owned a tarantula would roll over on something like this?
Williamson has strenuously denied any wrongdoing over the NSC leaks – he has sworn on his children’s lives that it has nothing to do with him, called the accusations a “vendetta” and claimed that poor relations with Sir Mark Sedwill, the Cabinet Secretary who carried out the investigation, were to blame.
He has also said that a “thorough investigation” would have exonerated him, and that this was a “kangaroo court.” With some MPs now calling for a criminal investigation into the matter, there is a chance that he may be found to be not guilty after all.
In which case all hell would break loose. A prominent politician sacked over serious accusations without reasonable proof would be disastrous for May. This might, just might, be the straw that broke the camel’s back and brought down the government.
But, for all of us who have been following this Black Knight cabinet, arms and legs chopped off yet still somehow soldiering on, it’s just another day at the office.
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