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Sunday 28 May 2023 Dublin: 15°C
PA Gavin Williamson.
# UK
Gavin Williamson resigns from UK government after bullying allegations
The former cabinet minister is facing a series of inquiries into his conduct.

GAVIN WILLIAMSON HAS resigned from Rishi Sunak’s Government after bullying allegations were made against him over a series of text messages he sent to a colleague.

The former cabinet minister said he had decided to step down from his position while he faces a series of inquiries into his conduct. 

In a series of expletive-laden texts exposed over the weekend, Williamson accused former chief whip Wendy Morton of seeking to “punish” MPs out of favour with then-premier Liz Truss by excluding them from Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral, warning: “There is a price for everything.”

The Conservative party and the UK parliament’s bullying watchdog began looking into the allegations made by Morton.

Separately, Downing Street also launched an informal fact-finding exercise over fresh allegations that Williamson had told a senior civil servant to “slit your throat” and on another occasion, told them to “jump out of the window”.  

In a letter this evening, Williamson recognised that the allegations against him had “become a distraction” for the government. 

“I have therefore decided to step back from government so that I can comply fully with the complaints process that is underway and clear my name of any wrongdoing,” he wrote. 

“It is with real sadness that I tender my resignation, but I want to take this opportunity to offer my full and total support from the back benches.”

His appointment had called into question Sunak’s judgement, having appointed him to his Cabinet when he knew he was facing a bullying investigation. 

Downing Street previously said that Williamson maintains the full confidence of Sunak, who insisted he would not act against the Cabinet Office minister until the outcome of the Tory party investigation.

Sunak told broadcasters travelling with him to the COP27 climate summit in Egypt that he would not be “passing judgment” until after an “independent complaints investigation”, understood to be the internal investigation launched by the Tory party.

“I want to see the results of that, obviously, but I’ve been very clear that language is not right, it’s not acceptable,” he said.

“And that’s why I welcome the fact that Gavin Williamson has expressed regret about that and now wait to see what the investigation says. There’s an independent complaints process that’s being conducted at the moment. It would be right to let that process conclude before making any decisions about the future.”

Labour leader Keir Starmer argued that the twice-sacked minister is “clearly not suitable” for the job and that Sunak appointing his ally to UK Government shows he is “weak”.

Following his resignation, Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “This is a damning reflection of a weak Prime Minister.

“Rishi Sunak appointed Gavin Williamson with full knowledge of serious allegations about his conduct and repeatedly expressed confidence in him.

“This is yet another example of Rishi Sunak’s poor judgment and weak leadership. It is clear that he is trapped by the grubby backroom deals he made to dodge a vote, and is incapable of putting country before party.

“As families struggle during a cost-of-living crisis made in Downing Street, yet another Tory Government has descended into chaos.”

Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper said in a tweet: “This should be the third and final time Gavin Williamson is forced out of the Cabinet.”

Additional reporting from the Press Association

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