UK: Tory MP Gavin Williamson Resigns Over Bullying Allegations

UK cabinet minister Sir Gavin Williamson resigned on Tuesday, after Downing Street announced he is facing internal investigation by the Conservative Party over a series of bullying allegations. His resignation letter detailed that Williamson plans to comply with "an ongoing complaints process."

UK: Tory MP Gavin Williamson Resigns Over Bullying Allegations
Image credit: Sky News

Facts

  • UK cabinet minister Sir Gavin Williamson resigned on Tuesday, after Downing Street announced he is facing internal investigation by the Conservative Party over a series of bullying allegations. His resignation letter detailed that Williamson plans to comply with "an ongoing complaints process."
  • Pressures over Williamson's cabinet position arose at the weekend, when text messages emerged between him and ex-chief whip Wendy Morton showing he accused Morton of "rigging" the ticket allocation for the Queen's funeral. Williamson then threatened her, warning that, "there is a price for everything." He quit following revelations published in the Guardian that Williamson, while defense secretary, told a senior civil servant to "slit your throat".
  • Ms. Morton sent the text messages to the Conservative Party last month after making a formal complaint. On Tues., she reported Williamson to Parliament's Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS) where an external probe is first conducted before deciding whether to move to a full investigation.
  • It has transpired that the claims are in keeping with the ex-cabinet minister's reputation among some colleagues, with former education secretary Nicky Morgan claiming she was not surprised by the allegations based on previous experiences of his behavior.
  • PM Rishi Sunak had defended Williamson's position until earlier this week. No. 10 spokesperson Max Blain confirmed on Tuesday that Sunak retained confidence in the minister, even though the controversy posed difficulties for his recently-established administration.
  • Labour and the Liberal Democrats have scrutinized Sunak's judgment over reappointing Williamson — who had been a government minister twice before — to the cabinet. The PM reportedly knew about Morton's complaint against Williamson when he made the appointment two weeks ago.

Sources: Guardian, BBC News, Bloomberg, and Daily Mail.

Narratives

  • Left narrative, as provided by The Guardian. The appointment and subsequent resignation in disgrace of twice-sacked Williamson is a parable for the crisis of the Conservative government. Sunak's failure to respond more forcibly to the scandal surrounding the former defense secretary's vile behavior has revealed the weakness of his position — the Tories are ungovernable and their salvation is beyond the abilities of any single PM.
  • Right narrative, as provided by Sky News. Despite Williamson's resignation letter, it is more likely that he was pushed from government than made a willing exit. His actions threatened Sunak's promise to establish a government of accountability and integrity, and his swift removal from cabinet — along with an internal inquiry to clarify events — will help protect the reputation of the PM's new administration.

Predictions