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Minister of Offence: 7 most ill-judged & preposterous Gavin Williamson moments

Minister of Offence: 7 most ill-judged & preposterous Gavin Williamson moments
Gavin Williamson’s political requiems following his sacking painted him as a master of the dark arts, which is impossible to reconcile with a public persona that veered from the immaturely bombastic to the, frankly, “idiotic.”

Appointed as defense minister after reportedly maneuvering his predecessor Michael Fallon out, the former ceramics firm director took to the job for which he had no obvious qualifications with a clownish gusto, determined to wade into international scandals abroad, and provoke exasperated resentment in his own ranks.

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“Frankly, Russia should go away, and it should shut up”

In uttering his defining words the then internationally unknown minister thought he’d sound like a no-nonsense tough guy. Instead, he came off like a petulant pre-teen. Go away Russia, I don’t want to go to bed, I want to play Fortnite!

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Russia plans to cause “thousands and thousands and thousands of deaths” in the UK

One thing Williamson is universally credited for is his work ethic and persistence, best illustrated here with his attempts to defeat Putin with repetition in rhetoric. But this particular claim that Russia was seeking to “rip Britain’s infrastructure apart” and “create total chaos” was taken with a grain of salt even in the sympathetic UK press, coming as it did on the same day as details of an old affair resurfaced.

"Can’t we buy tractors and put really expensive guns on them?"

Now we can’t know for sure whether Williamson really suggested saving money by putting armaments on tractors, or asked European officials if it would be better to put missiles inside Coca-Cola trucks to hide them from the Russians, or if these were just ironically malicious leaks from his rivals to the media. But it is notable that no one would even bother trying to make such claims stick to any of his predecessors in the job, so there is at least a grain of truth in claims that Williamson compensated what he lacked in military knowledge with his out-of-the-box thinking. “He literally can’t help himself coming up with this stuff,” said one colleague.

Cronus the Tarantula

Intent: I am going to keep a spider named after a Greek Titan, who castrated his father and ate his children to keep his grip on power, in a knowing reference to my own Machiavellian genius.

How it actually looked: Look at my tarantula – well scary, innit? Are you scared? Do you want to touch it? I am going to take it out and throw it at you.

Outcome: Williamson was asked to take his arachnid home from the Ministry of Defence, because it was making colleagues uncomfortable. He complied.

Threatening China with Britain’s warship

Perhaps before you “strengthen our global presence, enhance our lethality and increase our mass” and promise to deploy “hard power” against the “law-flouting” most populous nuclear nation in the world (that also happens to be its biggest economy) by sending an aircraft carried into their waters, you should at least ask your cabinet colleagues whether they are on board. Dismissed as “idiotic” by a briefing insider, the words did not appear to scare China, but they did scupper a planned UK visit after outrage among Beijing officials.

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The (unapproved) Williamson Medal for Gallantry

As a man whose job before politics was selling commemorative plates (a cheap shot, but perhaps not actually irrelevant in view of the whole Dunning-Kruger going on here) Williamson has a good eye for decoration. Which is why he reportedly attempted to launch his own personal medal that he would hand out to preferred staff and dignitaries. Only to be told that only the Queen can approve medals and that his award would be a meaningless piece of metal that couldn’t be worn together with official decorations.

“I made her – I can break her”

Williamson reportedly made the boast that he could topple Theresa May in a speech to army chiefs, after she refused £20bn in extra funding for the army last summer.

How did that work out, then? And she doesn’t even keep spiders.

Igor Ogorodnev

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