Prime Minister, Theresa May wasted no time appointing the new Secretary of State for Defence, Gavin Williamson, after Sir Michael Fallon’s sudden resignation Wednesday evening.
The resignation of Sir Michael Fallon has come following recent allegations of sexual harassment amongst MPs and himself in and around Westminster.
In his resignation letter shared by the Guardian he says that “many of these are false but I accept that in the past I have fallen below the high standards that we require of the Armed forces”.
This morning, Leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom has brought her own claims against Fallon. The Daily Mail reported that the former Defence Secretary used “vile” language towards Leadsom during a parliamentary meeting six years ago when she had complained of cold hands, telling her “I know where you can put them to warm them up.”
The Sun have said a source close to Fallon said: “He categorically denies saying something appalling as he knows where she could warm her hands.”
Fallon also apologised earlier this week in a video interview over an incident that happened in 2002, between journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer, where he repeatedly touched her knee in an unwanted manner.
Who is Gavin Williamson?
Born: 25 June 1976 (aged 41), Scarborough, North Yorkshire.
Education: Attended Raincliffe Comprehensive School and Scarborough Sixth Form College and then went onto study social sciences at the University of Bradford.
Career: MP for South Staffordshire since 2010. Short lived Conservative Chief Whip, serving from June 2016 and now Defence Secretary – although he has no military experience.
He was also Awarded a CBE in David Cameron’s controversial resignation honours list for political and public service.
After a disappointing Conservative victory in Junes snap general election, Mr Williamson played a key role in brokering the controversial £1bn deal with Northern Irelands DUP, in order to prop up their minority government.
Williamson is best known for his desk pet – a red legged Mexican Tarantula known as Cronus, describing the creature as “a perfect example of an incredibly clean, ruthless killer”. May this be a sign of the type of political attitude to come?
— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) November 2, 2017
‘Spider Man’ Gavin Williamson has no military background and has never been a minister or in the public eye. However he did lead Theresa May’s general election campaign and was the chief party whip for a brief moment, so he is a trusted member for the Conservatives.
As Mr Fallon stated in his resignation letter “we are close to defeating Daesh terrorism in Iraq and Syria; we have taken a leadership role in NATO and we have secured a defence budget that will grow ahead of inflation each year”.
Fallon has stated three main accomplishments for himself during his time as Defence Secretary but they are now three problems for Williamson to tackle.
First of all, maintaining a leading role in NATO. Williamson is an unknown politician in Britain let alone on the international stage and with Russian and North Korean aggression ramping up in certain parts of the world, Williamson’s leadership skills will be put to the test.
Secondly, Williamson will now oversee RAF airstrikes in Iraq as part of a US led coalition in the fight against so-called Islamic State and deal with the threat they pose to national security at home not just abroad. This means working with security agencies such as M15 to counter any terror activity, which has seen a sudden spike here in the UK.
He also arrives at the Ministry of Defence at a financially difficult time, he will be faced with the challenge of averting even more defence spending cuts. Although their has been a steady increase in the MoD’s budget, the BBC say they still need to find £20bn in efficiency savings.
Words: Joshua Hornsey | Subbing: Rituja Rao