Gavin Williamson

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Person.png Sir Gavin Williamson   Keywiki Powerbase WebsiteRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Gavin Williamson.jpg
Scourge of Russia, Israel's friend
BornGavin Alexander Williamson
25 June 1976
Scarborough, England, UK
Alma materUniversity of Bradford
SpouseJoanne Eland
Member ofConservative Friends of Israel
UK politician

Employment.png Minister of State without Portfolio

In office
25 October 2022 - 8 November 2022
Appointed byRishi Sunak

Employment.png Secretary of State for Education

In office
24 July 2019 - 15 September 2021
Appointed byBoris Johnson
Preceded byDamian Hinds

Employment.png Secretary of State for Defence

In office
2 November 2017 - 1 May 2019
Appointed byTheresa May
Preceded byMichael Fallon
Succeeded byPenny Mordaunt

Employment.png Chief Whip of the House of Commons

In office
14 July 2016 - 2 November 2017
Appointed byTheresa May

Gavin Williamson is a British Conservative Party politician who was Minister without Portfolio in the Rishi Sunak government for a fortnight until he resigned on 9 November 2022.[1] Previously he was Education Secretary in Boris Johnson's cabinet.[2]

On 2 November 2017, he was appointed Secretary of State for Defence following the resignation of Sir Michael Fallon, after a series of women working in Westminster shared stories of alleged abuse and inappropriate advances.[3][4]

On 1 May 2019, Gavin Williamson was sacked as Defence Secretary by Theresa May for allegedly disclosing plans to allow Chinese telecoms giant Huawei to help build the UK's 5G network. Opposition MPs said there should be a police investigation into whether the Official Secrets Act 1989 had been breached.[5]


Criticism of Russia

Commenting after the announcement of a Ministry of Defence (MoD) spending review on 26 January 2018, Gavin Williamson accused Russia of spying on the UK's infrastructure, including energy lines and under-sea cables that provide energy and power to some three million homes:

“The plan for the Russians won’t be for landing craft to appear in the South Bay in Scarborough, and off Brighton Beach. They are going to be thinking, ‘How can we just cause so much pain to Britain?’. Damage its economy, rip its infrastructure apart, actually cause thousands and thousands and thousands of deaths, but actually have an element of creating total chaos within the country.
“Why would they keep photographing and looking at power stations, why are they looking at the interconnectors that bring so much electricity and so much energy into our country? They are looking at these things because they are saying, ‘These are the ways we can hurt Britain’”.[6]

The Russian Embassy replied on Twitter that "[ Some British politicians bear no responsibility for their words" while former Telegraph journalist and RT contributor Peter Oborne labelled him as "out of control".[7] Russia’s defence ministry spokesman, Major General Igor Konashenkov, pithily observed:

“Gavin Williamson in his fiery crusade for military budget money appears to have lost his grasp on reason. His fears about Russia getting pictures of power plants and studying the routes of British pipelines are worthy of a comic plot or a Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch.”[8]

Support for Israel

Speaking on 2 February 2018 at the Conservative Friends of Israel’s annual Parliamentary reception, Gavin Williamson hailed Israel as a “beacon of light and hope, in a region where there is so much hatred and hurt” and said that the United Kingdom “will always be Israel’s friend.” The UK and Israel, Williamson asserted:

“have a strong and firm relationship of working together. It’s a relationship of partners… It’s a partnership of equals, a partnership of friends.”[9]

Pentagon visit

On 1 February 2018, Gavin Williamson visited US Defense Secretary James Mattis at the Pentagon, where they discussed the threats from Daesh, Russia and North Korea.[10]

Deploying hawkish rhetoric

While in the USA, Gavin Williamson came under fresh scrutiny after Theresa May refused to back the Defence Secretary over claims he didn’t tell the truth about a “flirtatious” relationship he had with a former junior colleague. Williamson who took over from Michael Fallon after he resigned amid sexual harassment allegations, admitted his affair in an interview with the Daily Mail on Monday 29 January 2018 when the father-of-two told the right-wing tabloid how he had a relationship with a former junior employee at fireplace firm Elgin and Hall in 2004, behind his wife’s back.

Williamson made the admission on the same day as he claimed “Russia is ready to kills Brits by the thousands,” prompting accusations that he deployed hawkish rhetoric to deflect attention away from his affair. When asked whether Williamson had been completely honest about how he departed his former job, Tory leader May – on a visit to China – fell short of outright defending him, saying:

“Gavin has told people about something that happened before he became a Member of Parliament, let alone became a minister.”

The PM also seemed to reject any similarities between Williamson and her former First Secretary, Damian Green, who was sacked after a cabinet office investigation found he had not been honest about pornographic material found on his parliamentary computer. The latest scandal is likely to deal a blow to Williamson’s reported aspirations of becoming the next PM. Williamson had already been the target of a widespread backlash, as he was appointed to the role despite having no experience as a minister or in the armed forces.[11]

Brexit "scandal"

In October 2016, the Mail on Sunday reported that the then Chief Whip, Gavin Williamson, told Downing Street that Michael Gove had had a homosexual relationship with personal and political ally Dominic Cummings, chief strategist of the Vote Leave campaign in the 2016 EU Referendum.[12]


In May 2015 Williamson was sworn in as a member of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, giving him the honorific title "The Right Honourable" for life. In the 2016 Resignation Honours List of David Cameron, Williamson was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) "for political and public service".

On 3 March 2022 Williamson was conferred as a Knight Bachelor as part of the 2022 Special Honours for Political Service. The honour drew disapproval from his critics, with Labour's shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson describing Williamson's record as "disgraceful" and the Liberal Democrats calling the knighthood "an insult to every child, parent and teacher who struggled through COVID against the odds". The investiture of the knighthood had been delayed while an inquiry by Sue Gray into alleged COVID-19 lockdown breaches in Downing Street was held.[13]


Event Participated in

Munich Security Conference/201915 February 201917 February 2019Munich
The 55th Munich Security Conference, which included "A Spreading Plague" aimed at "identifying gaps and making recommendations to improve the global system for responding to deliberate, high consequence biological events."


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