Sunak was not aware of “any specific allegations” against Williamson, the ally said Rishi Sunak

Sunak was not aware of “any specific allegations” against Williamson, the ally said Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak was not aware of “any specific allegations”. Gavin WilliamsonA 10th ally said as the prime minister faces further scrutiny over his judgment to bring him back into the cabinet.

Williamson resigned as a cabinet minister On Tuesday, after the Guardian revealed claims that while he was defense secretary, he told a former senior civil servant: “cut your throat”. It followed allegations he texted former Conservative leader Wendy Morton complaining about not being invited to the Queen’s funeral.

Sunak accepted Williamson’s resignation with “great sadness” but added that he supported the resignation.

On Wednesday, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said Williamson had “acted swiftly” to resign from the cabinet after two weeks in office as he faced allegations of bullying.

He said Sunak had the “highest degree of integrity and judgment” despite bringing the twice-ousted minister back into government after learning of the complaint against him.

“People make their decisions based on the mix of talent they want, the mix of people they want. This happens all the time in politics,” Keegan told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “You know, people come back and forth.”

“The reality is you’re appointing people and, you know, the only thing you can do if things don’t go your way, or things don’t go your way, or then things come up, is to act quickly. Gavin acted quickly, he removed the distraction,” added Keegan.

Ahead of his appearance at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Mr Keegan said Mr Sunak only knew about the “disagreement” between Mr Williamson and Mr Morton when he was appointed to the Cabinet Office. “He didn’t know about any specific allegations, he hadn’t seen any text messages or anything like that,” he told LBC radio.

Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy questioned why Sunak appointed Williamson in the first place despite being aware of the complaint.

“I think this raises real questions about the prime minister’s judgement. The behavior we’ve heard about over the past few days is repulsive, odious and completely, utterly unacceptable,” he told Today. “He’s assigned him some sort of enforcer, apparently, because that’s the way he acts. This is weak. It is unacceptable. We really need to have an account of why he returned to the government.”

Labor deputy leader Angela Rayner suggested Williamson should stand down as an MP if he is found to have abused colleagues or officials. “There is no place for bullies in Parliament,” he told BBC Two’s Newsnight on Tuesday.

He said Sunak had appointed Williamson “with full knowledge of the serious allegations about his conduct and had repeatedly expressed confidence in him”. “This is yet another example of Rishi Sunak’s poor judgment and weak leadership,” he added.

Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper said: “Rishi Sunak has serious questions to answer about why he appointed Gavin Williamson and then stood by him instead of sacking him.”

Williamson faces three separate inquiries into his conduct, two by Parliament’s Independent Complaints and Grievances Scheme (ICGS) and another by an internal Conservative Party inquiry. The two refer to the same incident involving Morton.

At PMQs, Sunak will face pressure to explain why he gave Williamson a top government post after he had already been sacked by Theresa May and Boris Johnson.

Williamson was first sacked by May as defense secretary in 2019 for leaking details of a National Security Council meeting and then by Johnson as education secretary over A-level results during the Covid pandemic.

Keegan defended Sunak’s expression of sadness at the death of his close political ally, saying the family of the civil servant who claimed Williamson told them to “cut your throat” should welcome “compassion” as the government scandal involved “people with families “.

“I think it’s always sad when a colleague resigns. It really affects them personally, it affects their family. So, you know, nobody is happy about these situations at all,” he told Times Radio.

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