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Theresa May Suffers Major Backlash Over New Defense Chief
International

Theresa May Suffers Major Backlash Over New Defense Chief

Theresa May is facing a major backlash after appointing her chief whip Gavin Williamson as the new defense secretary, with some Conservative MPs “livid” at the promotion.
Williamson was appointed on Thursday morning following Sir Michael Fallon’s shock resignation as defense secretary on Wednesday evening after he was implicated in the Westminster sexual harassment scandal, Sky News reported.
Fallon’s departure came after a journalist, Julia Hartley-Brewer, confirmed he had repeatedly placed his hand on her knee at a dinner in 2002.
Hartley-Brewer has repeatedly said she did not regard the incident as harassment, but Fallon hinted in a statement that further allegations could be forthcoming.
“In recent days allegations have been made about MPs’ conduct, including my own. Many of these have been false, but I realize that in the past I have fallen below the high standards that we require of the armed forces, which I have the privilege to represent.”
One senior Conservative backbench MP described the surprise promotion of Williamson to The Guardian as “Unbelievable. Ludicrous. Astonishing.”
Former chief of the general staff, Lord Richard Dannatt, said the appointment was “quite surprising” and not the best option “from a defense point of view.”
This is Williamson’s first ministerial position, but he is thought to be trusted by May after he ran her leadership campaign and was a trusted ally as chief whip since she became prime minister.
His departure has caused a shock at a time when party discipline is very important, due to the government’s wafer-thin majority in parliament.
Williamson was instrumental in organizing the “confidence and supply” deal with the Democratic Unionist Party following the disastrous general election and has ensured May has not lost a government vote in the House of Commons.
One minister said the move was “the most unpopular political decision I have ever known,” and a Tory MP told Buzzfeed News that it’s May’s “biggest and probably last mistake.”
Another Conservative MP told the New Statesman: “He [Williamson] has become the most loathed person in the parliamentary party, he’s overplayed his hand, he’s out of his depth, he’s never held a ministerial post, he’s never spoken at the despatch box and he’s deserted the whips office at a perilous moment.”

 

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