EXCL Top Tory hits back at ‘weasel’ Gavin Williamson over threat to Theresa May

Posted On: 
24th June 2018

Gavin Williamson has been branded a “weasel” after he threatened to bring down Theresa May unless she gives more money to the military.

Gavin Williamson Gavin Williamson has angered colleagues again
Credit: 
Paul Heartfield

The Defence Secretary sparked a furious row after details of the cash demand were leaked to the Mail on Sunday.

According to the paper, Mr Williamson wants the Treasury to find an extra £2bn a year for the next decade for the Ministry of Defence.

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The former chief whip - who led Mrs May’s leadership campaign - is said to have told military chiefs: “I can make her and I can break her.”

Sources close to Mr Williamson have insisted he was not the source of the story.

But in an angry blast at the ambitious Cabinet minister, one senior Tory told PoliticsHome: “The party is furious at this intervention that clearly comes straight from the horse's mouth.

“There are many who are huge defenders of the military and have been working hard to make the case to protect the deployable capability that keeps us a tier-1 nation. But there's no way we'd break cover now to back this weaselly attack on the PM.

“Williamson's intemperate and frankly bizarre media posturing shows just how unsuited he is for any high office whatsoever.

“He's clearly overpromoted and thinks stamping his foot stops him from being found out. It doesn't. The longer he's at the MoD, the less chance he has of ever leading the Conservative party."

Meanwhile, Tory former minister Nick Boles accused the Defence Secretary of making “childish threats”.

 

 

And Shadow Defence Secretary Nia Griffith told the BBC Andrew Marr show that Mr Williamson was having “tantrums”, adding: “We don't know for one minute whether he's actually going to get that money.”

According to the Mail on Sunday, Mr Williamson has the support of many Tory MPs who are said to be prepared to vote down the next Budget unless the Prime Minister agrees to a stump up the money.

Defence Select Committee chair Julian Lewis has given his backing to the cause, saying: “There needs to be no political risk to the PM if she does the right thing.

“I’ve been in parliament 20 years and have never known such unanimity. If the NHS can get £20bn extra the defence deserves that just to stand still.”

An ally of Mr Williamson added: “The PM has no stronger ally than Gavin. He never lost a vote as chief whip and he kept her job after the General Election by negotiating with the DUP.

“But there’s a strong feeling No 10 and No 11 are both failing to recognise the threats we face.

“Gavin is right to fight for the defence budget so our troops can counter the threats and keep Britain as a major world player.”

But a Cabinet minister lashed out at the ambitious Defence Secretary, telling PoliticsHome: “Gavin just can’t help overreaching himself.”