Gavin Williamson replaces Fallon as sex scandal widens

Chief Whip promoted following Michael Fallon’s resignation over sexual harassment claims

Gavin Williamson has been visiting British troops in Afghanistan
(Image credit: Photo credit TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Conservative Chief Whip Gavin Williamson is taking over the role of Secretary of State for Defence from Michael Fallon - the first politician to quit following recently revealed claims of sexual harassment in Parliament.

Fallon resigned yesterday, saying his conduct fell short of military standards - although exactly what he was referring to remains a mystery. Fallon said that what had been “acceptable 15, ten years ago is clearly not acceptable now”, the BBC reports.

Williamson, 41, had served as chief whip since July 2016, a role that has now been handed to his former deputy, Julian Smith.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Theresa May’s appointment of Williamson was met with shock and scepticism, with many reporters citing anonymous sources from within the Conservative Party expressing their displeasure.

See more

Since the chief whip advises the PM on promotions, “some Conservatives are suggesting that he, in effect, promoted himself”, says George Eaton in the New Statesman.

See more
See more
See more

Fallon is the first major casualty in the growing sexism controversy that has rocked May’s already shaky coalition and that threatens to take down more MPs. He apologised earlier this week for repeatedly touching a journalist’s knee during a 2002 dinner.

The Guardian speculates that Fallon may have quit before more misconduct allegations could surface. Further resignations are expected to follow, the Daily Mirror says.

Yesterday it emerged that Damien Green, the Prime Minister’s most trusted Cabinet ally, has been accused of making inappropriate advances on a Tory activist 30 years his junior.

In a speech last night, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson called for the parliamentary stables to be cleared out.

“The house clearing that is about to happen needs to happen, and we can never go back to where we were before,” she said. This morning Davidson told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that “the dam has broken” on sexual misconduct allegations.

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.