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LONDON — Gavin Williamson, a close ally of Rishi Sunak, has resigned from the U.K. government following bullying allegations.
Following the Westminster scandal, the ex-education secretary and chief whip was at the center of much controversy about his conduct. Sunday Times reportedMultiple expletive-filled and furious messages were sent by him to his colleague. More accusations have been filed.
Rishi Sunak, the new Prime Minister, was already criticised for appointing Williamson. Williamson has been fired twice from Cabinet positions in the past. Sunak, who upon taking office had promised “integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level,” said in an interview with the Sun that Williamson’s messages were “not acceptable,” but added that an investigation into the situation should conclude.
“I have … 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,” Williamson said Tuesday.
Text messages obtained by the Sunday Times, Williamson appeared to berate Wendy Morton — who was responsible for party discipline under former PM Liz Truss — after learning he would not be among those who attended the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.
In one text concerning his non-attendance at the late monarch’s funeral, he told Morton “there is a price for everything.” Morton reported the messages to the Conservative Party.
Williamson — who was brought back into government as a minister without a portfolio by Sunak — is also the subject of a formal complaint from a former senior civil servant, who claims Williamson told them to “slit your throat” and on a separate occasion to “jump out of the window,” according to the Guardian newspaper. Williamson denied the accusation.
Since the Sunday Times story broke more allegations were made public, including those of Anne Milton, the former Deputy Chief Whip. who saidWilliamson seemed to threaten an MP in financial trouble.
In his resignation letter, Williamson said he is complying with the Conservatives’ internal complaints process and that he refutes the “characterization” of other allegations that have been made against him. He apologized to Morton.
Known as a well-connected “fixer” in the Tory party, Williamson was an aide to David Cameron and then served in the cabinets of Theresa May and Boris Johnson before Liz Truss decided to leave him out of her top team.
Williamson, who was the chief whip in Cameron’s government, was well-known for having a pet tarantula at his desk.
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