Theresa May backs Gavin Williamson over 'private' fling with former colleague

Posted On: 
29th January 2018

Theresa May has given her backing to Gavin Williamson, and insisted a fling with a former work colleague which he revealed in a national newspaper is "a private matter".

Gavin Williamson is one of Theresa May's closest Cabiniet allies.
PA Images

A spokesman for the Prime Minister insisted she retained "full confidence" in the Defence Secretary despite criticism of his behaviour in recent days.

Married Mr Williamson told the Daily Mail that he had kissed a female colleague when he was working at fireplace company Elgin & Hall before entering politics.

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He described the incident as a "dreadful mistake" but insisted wife Joanne had since forgiven him.

The Cabinet minister - one of Theresa May's closest political allies - has been accused of revealing the relationship in an attempt to head off any bad publicity during a future Tory leadership bid.

Mr Williamson has also come under pressure to reveal the precise details of his departure from Elgin & Hall, which he has so far refused to do.

But the Prime Minister's spokesman said: "This pre-dates the period when the Defence Secretary was either an MP or a minister, so it is a private matter. I don't have anything further to add in relation to this."

Two Tory colleagues told the Sun Mr Williamson had ruined his chances of a tilt at the top job.

"This is extremely damaging to him in any case but if there was any disciplinary action, he’s in big trouble," one told the paper.

Another added: “He was once Theresa May’s ‘adopted son’ but this virtually guarantees he won’t be leader.”

But a friend of Mr Williamson dismissed claims that the MP was sacked from his job at the fireplace firm after details of the affair became known.

"He was offered the job of operations director to stay. There was no disciplinary process," the source told the Times.