Sir Gavin Williamson has resigned, saying the allegations against him were “becoming a distraction for the good work this government is doing”.
The decision to quit follows allegations he sent expletive-laden messages to former chief whip Wendy Morton complaining about being refused an invitation to the Queen’s funeral, claims he bullied a former official at the Ministry of Defence and an accusation of “unethical and immoral” behaviour while he was chief whip.
Sir Gavin said there was an ongoing complaints process “concerning text messages I sent to a colleague” – a reference to Ms Morton’s complaint.
In his resignation letter, Sir Gavin Williamson told Rishi Sunak: “As you know, there is an ongoing complaints process concerning text messages I sent to a colleague.
Gavin William's resignation letter Gavin Williamson/Twitter
“I am complying with this process and I have apologised to the recipient for those messages.
“Since then, there have been other allegations made about my past conduct. I refute the characterisation of these claims, but I recognise these are becoming a distraction for the good work this government is doing for the British people.
“I have therefore decided to step back from government so that I can comply fully with the complaints process that is underway and clear my name of any wrongdoing. “
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s decision to give a Cabinet-level role to the twice-sacked minister had led to questions about his judgment from critics.
No 10 said earlier on Tuesday that more time was needed to consider allegations against Williamson.
Sir Gavin Williamson has resigned, saying the allegations against him were “becoming a distraction for the good work this government is doing”. Jacob King
Sir Gavin, who was knighted after being nominated for the honour by Boris Johnson earlier this year, is a divisive figure at Westminster, where he is viewed with suspicion by many Tory MPs because of his reputation as an inveterate plotter.
He was sacked first by former PM Theresa May as defence secretary in 2019 for leaking details of a National Security Council meeting, and then by Mr Johnson as education secretary over the Covid-19 A-levels debacle.
However, he was regarded as a key figure in Mr Sunak’s campaign over the summer to become party leader.