Gavin Williamson 'flabbergasted' to get Defence Secretary job amid Tory MPs' fury

Posted On: 
2nd November 2017

Gavin Williamson has said he was "flabbergasted" to be made Defence Secretary - amid claims by Tory MPs that he had persuaded Theresa May to give him the job.

Gavin Williamson arriving at the Ministry of Defence this afternoon
Credit: 
PA

The former Chief Whip replaced Sir Michael Fallon, who resigned yesterday following allegations of inappropriate behaviour involving a female journalist.

In a letter to Theresa May last night, Sir Michael said he had "fallen short" of the standards expected of his role.

Theresa May branded 'pathetically weak' after making Gavin Williamson the new Defence Secretary

ANALYSIS: Gavin Williamson - the baby-faced assassin who became Defence Secretary

Gavin Williamson replaces Michael Fallon as Defence Secretary

Mr Williamson's appointment as his replacement raised eyebrows among some Tory MPs, with some voicing concerns that he may have been involved in his own appointment.

One told PoliticsHome the move made the Prime Minister look "pathetically weak".

"It looks like Williamson has played her," the MP said. "When you have a wide range of experienced alternate options for Defence Secretary, why would you do that?"

Another former minister told this site: "You've got a situation where people are openly saying that Gavin Williamson appointed himself Defence Secretary - that is not good for the Prime Minister."

'FLABBERGASTED'

But Mr Williamson, who has not run a Whitehall department before, insisted his appointment had come as a total shock.

"I was absolutely flabbergasted when the Prime Minister brought me in and asked me to be the Secretary of State for Defence," he told the Express and Star.

"Few people can have such a great honour than to be responsible for overseeing the Armed Services of this great country and helping to formulate policy in terms of how we move forward.

"Walking through the doors of the MoD I immediately felt a real sense of responsibility on my shoulders. I am under no illusions that this is a massive challenge and a huge responsibility.

"It is one that I hope I will be able to meet.

"I am a firm believer in acting in good heart and with the best intentions. Hopefully I will be judged on the actions that I take."

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said: "Gavin Williamson was an excellent and hardworking Chief Whip and the Prime Minister thinks he will make an excellent Defence Secretary."