British cabinet minister Gavin Williamson resigns over intimidation charges

  • Williams resigns to comply with investigation
  • Opposition parties challenge Sunak’s ruling

LONDON, Nov 8 (Reuters) – British cabinet minister Gavin Williamson resigned from government on Tuesday after he allegedly bullied his 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 to the heart of government after months of turmoil under his predecessors Liz Truss and Boris Johnson.

But his first two weeks on the job have been overshadowed by rows over first his home secretary, Suella Braverman, and now Williamson, who has been kicked out of government for the third time in less than four years.

The Sunday Times and other newspapers had reported that colleagues had accused Williamson of acting intimidatingly, sending profanity-laden messages and telling a government official to “cut his throat”.

Williamson said in a letter to Sunak on Tuesday that he was following a complaints process and that while he refuted the characterization of the messages, he acknowledged they were becoming a distraction for the government.

“I have therefore decided to step down from government so that I can fully comply with the ongoing complaint process and clear my name of any wrongdoing,” he said in the letter, which he released. on Twitter.

“It is with real sadness that I tender my resignation.”

Sunak said in a response letter that he accepted the resignation with “great sadness” but supported the decision.

In a bid to appease warring factions in his party and build a government that could last, Sunak had appointed ministers from all wings of the Conservative Party when he became prime minister in late October.

But Williamson’s appointment raised eyebrows. Williamson was fired as Secretary of Defense in 2019 for a national security leak, and again last year when parents criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and schools during his tenure as secretary at education.

Sunak also came under fire for firing Braverman to the Home Office, or Home Office, less than a week after she was fired by her 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,” Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, said in a statement.

The government and fellow ministers had previously said Williamson’s messages, if true, were not acceptable, but more time was needed to investigate the situation.

Reporting by Muvija M and Kate Holton, Editing by Kylie MacLellan and Rosalba O’Brien

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