Prime Minister Theresa May has summarily fired Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson after an internal inquiry to determine the source of press leaks from the government’s high-level’s National Security Council meeting.
He will be replaced by MP Penny Mordaunt, the first female Defence Secretary, who has an ex-forces family background, is a Navy reservist and represents the Royal Navy stronghold of Portsmouth. The well-qualified Mordaunt is also a former minister for the armed forces.
Williamson’s brisk dismissal follows a well-sourced newspaper story on the controversy over allowing Chinese technology company Huawei to supply components for Britain’s new 5G mobile data network – we previously covered that story here.
Williamson is not going down without a fight, accusing the inquiry of being a ‘kangaroo court’, but the gaffe-prone minister will not be missed by many colleagues; his “shut up and go away” response to Russia in the wake of the Salisbury poisonings was widely ridiculed, and plans he revealed during speeches included mounting missile launchers to tractors and arming Gibraltarians with paintball guns to deter Spanish warships.
There is more to come on this story – opposition parties are pressing for a police inquiry into the potential breaching of the Official Secrets Act. We will be keeping a close eye on proceedings and updating this story as new facts become available.