Gavin Williamson was defence secretary for less than two years, but his tenure has been dogged by controversies including revelations of an affair shortly after his appointment.
The gaffe-prone 42-year-old took up the post on November 2, 2017 having served as the MP for South Staffordshire since the 2010 election. He was given the position following the resignation of Sir Michael Fallon over sexual harassment claims.
During his time in the post he earned a less-than-desirable reputation, regularly inviting the Captain Mainwaring response of ‘Stupid Boy!’. Having suggested ideas for defence including arming tractors with guns and paintballing Spanish ships.
Despite this he had been an outside contender to replace Theresa May as Tory leader when she eventually steps down. When he landed the defence job, he achieved the highly unusual distinction of being promoted directly into the Cabinet without having held a more junior ministerial job.
Gavin Williamson is seen in his first public appearance since being appointed as defence secretary in November, 2017. He is conducting the band of the Grenadier Guards at Waterloo Station in London
Williamson (pictured) earned a less-than-desirable reputation during his time in the role, regularly inviting the Captain Mainwaring response of ‘Stupid Boy!’
Williamson (pictured during his time as an MP for South Staffordshire) even suggested during his tenure as defence secretary that tractors be armed with guns
He got his big break as parliamentary private secretary (PPS) to David Cameron from 2013-16 and was selected by Mrs May as her parliamentary campaign manager for the contest for the Conservative leadership triggered by Mr Cameron’s resignation following the Brexit referendum.
As he rose rapidly through the ranks, he was regarded as a right-hand man of Prime Minister May who remained by her side as other key allies fell by the wayside in the wake of her disastrous snap election.
But now his short stint in the role has come to a shocking end, after it was alleged that he was behind a highly controversial security leak about Chinese mobile phone giant Huawei last week.
The sacking leaves his political career in tatters and raises the question of whether he will face police action into his conduct in leaking details from a top secret meeting.
It is the latest in the strong of controversies the Scarborough born MP has faced. One of the first was that of an affair. Just months into his position as Defence Secretary, in January 2018 it was revealed by The Daily Mail that he had been engaged in an office romance with a former colleague.
He insisted the relationship had not gone beyond kissing ‘a couple of times’ and that she had forgiven him for the antics which took place in 2014. The couple have two daughters and he has stressed that his family is central to his life.
Gavin Williamson is pictured with his wife Joanne Williamson. After revelations of an affair in January 2018, he stressed that his family is central to his life
‘My family means everything to me and I almost threw it away… This incident nearly destroyed two marriages,’ he said at the time.
Just months later, in March 2018, he faced another controversy. Soon after the poisoning of Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, Williamson was lambasted for saying: ‘Frankly, Russia should go away and should shut up.’
The remarks were widely ridiculed in both Russia and the UK, and he was later criticised for his use of informal language when dealing with sensitive topics.
It was an issue brought up by Richard Madeley on Good Morning Britain, but Williamson stonewalled the presenter so much he was cut off. Madeley told him: ‘Right, you’re not going to answer, are you? OK. All right, interview terminated because you won’t answer the question.’
In July 2018, Williamson became the first minister to be heckled by his own phone at the dispatch box in the House of Commons.
The Cabinet minister was making a statement on operations against ISIS in Syria when his voice triggered Siri on his mobile.
As Mr Williamson spoke, a disembodied voice could clearly be heard saying: ‘I’ve found something on the web about Syria. Syrian democratic forces supported by….’
Belatedly realising what was happening, Mr Williamson groped for the phone in his pocket to turn it off.
‘It is very rare that you are heckled by your own mobile phone,’ he joked nervously.
Soon after the poisoning of Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, Williamson was lambasted for saying: ‘Frankly, Russia should go away and should shut up’
In July 2018, Williamson became the first minister to be heckled by his own phone at the dispatch box in the House of Commons (pictured)
Williamson has his own Instagram account, in which he posted images from both his role as Defence Secretary and from his private time
Williamson has encountered problems on social media. In the same month he was appointed defence secretary, he accidentally revealed his classic Landrover – which he has proudly boasted about on Instagram – was untaxed
It was certainly not that only time Williamson has encountered issues with his mobile phone in the House of Commons. He was chastised for flouting a ban on photography inside the chamber.
In September last year he posted images taken from inside the chamber on social media. They showed Theresa May statement about Brexit.
It was a move which later led to him being rebuked by parliamentary authorities.
Elsewhere on social media, Williamson has also encountered problems. In the same month he was appointed defence secretary, he accidentally revealed his classic Landrover – which he has proudly boasted about on Instagram – was untaxed.
Williamson was chastised for flouting a ban on photography inside the House of Commons last year. In September he posted images taken from inside the chamber on social media. They showed Theresa May statement about Brexit
Claiming the vehicle had a ‘go anywhere do anything attitude’, DVLA records revealed that road tax on the classic 1981 vehicle ran out at the end of October, 2017 and had not yet been renewed.
He later also wrote that the vehicle ‘epitomises everything that is so great about Great Britain’, having forgotten Land Rover has actually owned by India’s Tata Motors for years.
During his tenure, Williamson is also reported to have made a number of eccentric suggestions about how to use the defence budget effectively. The Sun revealed in August last year that he had proposed a series of ‘bizarre’ and outlandish ideas to bolster the UK’s military.
These included fitting guns to tractors and disguising defence systems as Coca-Cola lorries, the newspaper claimed.
The proposals sparked anger within the ranks of the military, who feared his strange demands could hamper chances of securing additional funds from the Treasury.
Much to the surprise of his staff, Williamson proposed another intriguing idea in January of this year suggesting paintballs be fired at Spanish ships to stop them trespassing in Gibraltar’s waters.
He made the suggestion off the back of a huge upsurge in Spanish vessels entering British waters off the Rock.
He even wanted to send a Royal Navy Type 45 destroyer to the Spanish territory of Ceuta on the Moroccan coast to deal with the growing Spanish threat.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson performs the cutting of the sod during a visit to RAF Lossiemouth where he launched construction of a new home for maritime patrol aircraft and boarded a P-8A maritime patrol aircraft
Williamson risked flushing his reputation down the pan in his battle with the Kremlin after visitors spotted a roll of lavatory paper adorned with Mr Putin’s face in his MoD office (stock image)
Prior to his appointment as Defence Secretary, Williamson served as an MP for South Staffordshire. He got his big break as parliamentary private secretary (PPS) to David Cameron from 2013-16
Williamson’s sacking leaves his political career in tatters and raises the question of whether he will face police action into his conduct in leaking details from a top secret meeting (he is pictured before being appointed to the role of defence secretary)
In the same month he risked flushing his reputation down the pan in his battle with the Kremlin after visitors spotted a roll of lavatory paper adorned with Mr Putin’s face in his MoD office.
Mr Williamson, a former Chief Whip, caused consternation in Westminster even before his appointment as Defence Secretary.
He used to keep a tarantula called Cronus in his whip’s office – but it was barred from moving to the MoD because a member of his staff has arachnophobia.
More recently, and perhaps more seriously, he was at the centre of a cabinet row in February as government sources blamed him for offending the Chinese and causing the cancellation of a crucial trade visit to Beijing by Chancellor Philip Hammond.
On that occasion, the then Defence Secretary had made a speech days before the mission in which he talked about sending a Royal Navy warship to the sensitive waters of the Indo Pacific, words that did not go down well in Beijing.
Some Westminster commentators speculated that some of the remarks that caused controversy were deliberately designed to boost his profile and his popular appeal with a view to boosting his chances of succeeding Mrs May as Tory leader.
But now his stint as Defence Secretary has come to a close after it was alleged today that he was behind a highly controversial security leak about Chinese mobile phone giant Huawei last week.