Sun, 26 May 2024

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By Lord Watson of Wyre Forest
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Rishi Sunak Says He "Regrets" Appointing Gavin Williamson To Government

2 min read

Rishi Sunak has said he "does regret" appointing Gavin Williamson to government after the cabinet office minister was forced to resign over bullying allegations.

Williamson resigned on Tuesday after a civil servant lodged a formal complaint against him over bullying allegations.

Speaking at Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday, Keir Starmer told Commons: "The truth is simple, he [Gavin Williamson] is a pathetic bully but he would never get away with it if people like the Prime Minister didn't hand him power. 

"So does he regret his decision to make him a government minister?"

The Prime Minister responded: "I obviously regret appointing someone who has had to resign in these circumstances but I think what the British people would like to know is when situations like this arise, that they will be dealt with properly."

Sunak also condemned the reports of bullying relating to Williamson, claiming it was "unacceptable" behaviour and he welcomed his resignation.

"For the record, I did not know about any of the specific concerns relating to his conduct as secretary of state or chief whip which date back some years," he continued.

"I believe that people in public life should treat others with consideration and respect and those are the principles that this government will stand by."

On Tuesday, Williamson, who was Minister without Portfolio in the Cabinet Office, was accused of "unethical and immoral behaviour" by the former Conservative MP Anne Milton, and a senior civil servant claimed he told them to “slit your throat”.

Milton said that as chief whip, he used “leverage” and threats to control colleagues and instil a culture of fear in Westminster.

Earlier this week Williamson was accused of sending abusive text messages to former chief whip Wendy Morton, which led to investigations by the Conservative party and parliamentary authorities.

Labour has previously accused Sunak of having “broken his promise” to bring "integrity and accountability" into government over his failure to hire a new adviser on ministerial ethics, despite already facing rows over his Cabinet appointments.

Rishi Sunak said appointing an independent ethics adviser was one of the first things he'd do as Prime Minister, but instead he’s dragged his heels and broken his promise," she told PoliticsHome.

“As the list of serious charges against his own ministers mount, the mask is slipping to reveal that under Rishi Sunak, it is more of the same sleaze and scandal that saw the previous two ethics chiefs walk out.

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