first turbulence within the Sunak government

Gavin Williamson in London, November 7, 2022.

First scandal, first resignation from Rishi Sunak’s government: Tuesday, November 8, Gavin Williamson, minister (without portfolio) and close to the new British prime minister, had to resign, just a fortnight after taking office, faced with the accumulation of revelations and allegations against him. He is accused by colleagues, Conservative MPs like him, of having threatened them, and even harassed them, to achieve his ends.

This 46-year-old MP, ex-minister of education for Boris Johnson, ex-minister of defense and “chief whip” (responsible for the discipline of the parliamentary group) of Theresa May, was known for his political skill, but dragged a reputation as a master of the Tory party’s dirty work. He lent a hand to Rishi Sunak on his first attempt to enter Downing Street this summer – lost to Liz Truss. He helped him again, at the end of October, to replace Mme Truss when she was initially pushed, neutralizing Boris Johnson’s bid for a comeback.

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But the British media were quick to reveal, shortly after the appointment of Mr. Williamson to the Sunak government, the accusations made against him by Wendy Morton, ex-chief whip of Liz Truss. the Sunday Times notably published the threatening messages he had sent to the MP, accusing her of having supposedly blocked him and other elected officials from accessing the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II on September 19, on the grounds that they were not close to Liz Truss.

Other testimonies from elected officials and civil servants have emerged, highlighting the brutal practices of the ex-chief whip. And on Tuesday, Wendy Morton filed a formal complaint with the ICGS, the Westminster Parliament body responsible for investigating misconduct by MPs. Internal revenge, ego still alive within a party undermined by factions, who is at his fifth prime minister in six years? In any case, Mr. Williamson’s position was becoming untenable.

Doubts over Rishi Sunak’s judgment

In his resignation letter, posted on Twitter on Tuesday evening, the MP for Staffordshire (in the Midlands) denied having “harassed” colleagues, but acknowledged that the allegations against him hindered ” the proper functioning ” of the government. This departure would be anecdotal if it did not fuel doubts about Rishi Sunak’s judgment. In the spring of 2019, Mr Williamson had to give up his post as defense minister, after Theresa May suspected him of having leaked information following a national security meeting. He was then a very mediocre minister of education.

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