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Why Theresa May Sacked Gavin Williamson

A closer look at the Prime Minister's decision to fire Gavin Williamson.

The former defence secretary makes his way into Downing Street.

By James Hirst, Forces News Defence Correspondent

Gavin Williamson’s name was not the only one in the frame, but it was the one heard most loudly in the Westminster whispers over the last week.

The Prime Minister has not just acted on whispers though, this is the result of a short sharp investigation by her top civil servant.

It has led to the Prime Minister delivering a damning verdict on Gavin Williamson.

She wrote to him: "In our meeting this evening, I put to you the latest information from the investigation, which provides compelling evidence suggesting your responsibility for the unauthorised disclosure.

"No other, credible version of events to explain this leak has been identified."

In short, she is saying he lied when he issued a statement six days ago stating neither he nor his team had shared information from the National Security Council (NSC).

Whitehall leak inquiries are notorious for never finding a culprit but that was not a realistic option this time.

Gavin Williamson in Kenya.

Theresa May could not allow someone to stay in Cabinet who shared information from one of the Government’s most sensitive meetings.

It was not the substance of the information that mattered (if the Huawei story had leaked from Cabinet it would have blown over quickly), it was the fact someone at that NSC meeting felt they could choose what was OK to share, seemingly for political advantage.

It is all the more embarrassing then for the leak to have come from the person who has been charged with the UK’s defence over the last 18 months.

There are calls from some for this to become a police matter, under the Official Secrets Act, though so far no police investigation has been launched and Downing Street says the matter is closed.

It is hard to see Gavin Williamson’s political career as being anything but in tatters. Who could appoint him to Cabinet again after this? Indeed can he remain as a parliamentarian?

However, Mr Williamson is fighting back to save his career, writing to the Prime Minister: "I strenuously deny that I was in any way involved in this leak and I am confident that a thorough and formal inquiry would have vindicated my position."

A Westminster colleague says he has spoken to Mr Williamson who said he swore "on his children’s life" that he was not the Huawei leaker.

In these turbulent political times this might seem like just another Cabinet scrap and career scrape, but it is far more than that.

Being accused of the first ever public leak from the National Security Council when you were supposed to be in charge of defending the UK will ensure Gavin Williamson a place in the history books, just not the one he wanted.