UK minister Gavin Williamson resigns amid terror allegations
- Williams resigns to comply with investigation
- Opposition parties question Sunak’s judgment
LONDON, Reuters – British minister Gavin Williamson resigned from the government on Tuesday amid allegations he abused colleagues, raising questions about Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s judgment just weeks after taking office.
Sunak became Britain’s third prime minister in two months in October, pledging to restore integrity and professionalism at the heart of government after months of turmoil under his predecessors Liz Truss and Boris Johnson.
But his first two weeks in office have been marred by controversy, first over his home secretary Suella Braverman and now Williamson, who has been ousted from government for the third time in less than four years.
The Sunday Times and other newspapers reported that colleagues accused Williamson of bullying behavior, sending abusive messages and telling a government official to “cut your throat”.
Williamson said in an email to Sunak on Tuesday that he is following the complaints process and that while he denies the characterization of the messages, he recognizes they are a distraction to the government.
“I have therefore decided to step down from government so that I can fully comply with the ongoing complaints process and clear my name of any wrongdoing,” he said in a letter he posted on Twitter.
“It is with real sadness that I resign.”
Sunak said in a reply letter that he accepted the resignation “with great sadness”, but supported the decision.
Seeking to appease warring factions in his party and build a government that could last, Sunak appointed ministers from all wings of the Conservative Party when he became prime minister in late October.
But Williamson’s appointment caused a stir. Williamson was fired as defense secretary in 2019 amid national security leaks and again last year after parents criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and schools while he was education minister.
Sunak has also been criticized for returning Braverman to the Interior Department, or Interior Department, less than a week after he was fired by his predecessor for violating email security rules.
The opposition Labor Party said Williamson’s resignation was “a damning reflection of a weak prime minister”.
“This is yet another example of Rishi Sunak’s poor judgment and weak leadership,” Labor deputy leader Angela Rainer said in a statement.
The government and fellow ministers have previously said Williamson’s messages, if true, were unacceptable, but more time was needed to investigate the situation.
Reporting by Muwija M and Kate Holton Editing by Kylie McLellan and Rosalba O’Brien
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