Gavin Williamson in Kenya
Politics

Who Is Gavin Williamson?

The former Defence Secretary has been sacked from the role following an inquiry into a leak of information.

Gavin Williamson in Kenya

Gavin Williamson MP has been sacked as Defence Secretary by the Prime Minister.

He was appointed in November 2017, following the resignation of Sir Michael Fallon.

He had served as the Chief Whip since July 2016 and was elected as MP for South Staffordshire in 2017.

Prior to taking the cabinet role, Mr Williamson had no real defence experience.

At the time of his appointment, he was likened to the protagonist of House of Cards during a Conservative party conference when he presented his "sharpened carrot" strategy:

"Personally I don't much like the stick, but it is amazing what can be achieved with a sharpened carrot."

Gavin Williamson addressing 4 RIFLES in Scotland
Mr Williamson addressing troops in Scotland last month (Picture: MOD).

His background

Born on 25 June 1976 and raised in Scarborough by Labour-supporting parents, Mr Williamson went to a local comprehensive school and sixth form college before taking a science degree (BSc Social Sciences) at the University of Bradford.

Married and with two children, his father worked at the local council, his mother at a job centre.

His background is in manufacturing and design at a pottery in Staffordshire and an architectural design company.

He got his big break as Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to David Cameron from 2013-16 and was selected by Mrs May as her parliamentary campaign manager for the contest for the Conservative leadership triggered by Mr Cameron's resignation following the Brexit referendum.

His new appointment means Mrs May not only adds an intensely loyal lieutenant to a fractious Cabinet but also avoids the necessity for a wider reshuffle caused by the "domino effect" if she had moved one of her senior ministers.

defence secretary gavin Williamson
(Picture: MOD).

Elected to parliament in 2010, Mr Williamson was swiftly appointed a PPS in the Northern Ireland Office in 2011 and then held a succession of "bag-carrier" posts, acting as the eyes and ears in the House of Commons for ministers Hugo Swire, Owen Paterson and Patrick McLoughlin, before entering Number 10 as a member of Mr Cameron's team.

Although unpaid, the role of PPS is seen as a useful staging post for a backbencher seeking ministerial office, but rarely were holders of the position elevated quite so swiftly into one of the most senior posts in the cabinet.

As Chief Whip, he was prohibited from speaking in Parliament and has had little opportunity to build up a public profile.

Gavin Williamson at JFC in Northwood
(Picture: MOD).

He also was awarded a CBE in Mr Cameron's resignation honours for political and public service.

The former Chief Whip is known in Westminster for keeping a pet tarantula named Cronus in a glass box on his desk, which is said to have provided added menace when dealing with errant MPs in his role as Mrs May's enforcer.

On his appointment as Chief Whip, he said:

"You have to look at all different ways to persuade people to vote with the Government and it's great to have Cronus as part of the team." 

The spider was "a perfect example of an incredibly clean, ruthless killer".

Voting Record: For

  • Use of UK military forces in combat operations: almost always for
  • Military action against the so-called Islamic state: for
  • Replacing Trident with new nuclear weapons: consistently for
  • Reduction in spending on welfare benefits: consistently for
  • Stricter asylum system: consistently for
  • Stronger enforcement of immigration rules: consistently for
  • Capping civil service redundancy payments: consistently for

Voting Record: Against

  • Investigations into the Iraq war: consistently against
  • UK membership of the EU: almost always against
  • Strengthening the Military Covenant: against
  • Same-sex marriage for armed forces' personnel outside of the UK: against
  • Raising welfare benefits at least in line with prices: consistently against

Source: TheyWorkForYou