Gavin Williamson appointment shows loyalty still comes before suitability in Westminster

Rishi Sunak is under fire for yet another appointment after threatening messages were sent by Gavin Williamson.

The former education secretary, best known for the exams fiasco and being sacked for allegedly leaking from the National Security Council, was appointed minister without portfolio last month.

This came despite the Conservative party considering a complaint about him from the former chief whip Wendy Morton.

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She claims he sent her offensive and threatening messages because he was angry about not being invited to attend the Queen’s funeral.

Rishi Sunak is under fire for bringing Sir Gavin Williamson back into the Government despite being warned that he was under investigation for allegedly bullying a female colleague.

It is telling these were reported to the party rather than the whips, suggesting Ms Morton did not trust MPs to deal with it properly.

The Prime Minister knew about the complaint before appointing Mr Williamson, but elevated the former minister anyway, ignoring all the other baggage that has made him unpopular.

It was not a popular appointment inside or out the party. And now, instead of discussing COP27 and the budget, the Government is once again defending a scandal of their own making.

Mr Sunak labelled the texts “not acceptable”, but insisted with an independent complaint process now running, “it’s right and reasonable we let that conclude”.

There was also a defence from business secretary Grant Shapps, who called it a “moment of frustration”, despite the messages being sent over the course of a month.

As if things weren’t bad enough, another minister has claimed Mr Williamson raised details about Ms Morton’s private life during a conversation in an attempt to silence her while she was on the back benches.

Bullying or threatening messages in the workplace are unacceptable, and having ministers need to defend them undermines the credibility of the Government at a time it so desperately needs to restore trust.

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Mr Williamson is well connected, knows lots about his colleagues and is undoubtedly an asset behind the scenes.

Downing Street have said they have confidence in him, after 24 hours of silence, but more claims are already emerging.

They can’t say it’s all fine because that condones his behaviour, but they are too weak in the circumstances to sack him.

Mr Sunak appointed someone his own MPs think of as a ticking time bomb, and Westminster is yet to find a reason why.

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