Ex-fireplace salesman Williamson feeling the heat over bullying allegations | Jon Craig

Politics

When Wendy Morton attempted to be selected as Conservative candidate in Richmond, North Yorkshire, back in 2014, she was defeated by Rishi Sunak.

Now she appears to be gaining her revenge as the prime minister faces questions about his judgement for re-appointing Sir Gavin Williamson to the government.

Politics Hub: PM ‘has confidence’ in Williamson – live updates

It is reported that the day before Sir Gavin’s comeback, Mr Sunak was warned by then-Tory chairman Jake Berry about allegations that Sir Gavin bullied Ms Morton, then chief whip.

The subject of the disagreement seems pretty trivial.

Sir Gavin was miffed – to say the least – that he wasn’t invited to the Queen’s funeral. Why would he be? He was a backbencher at the time.

So we can add social climbing and snobbery to the charges against him, as well as bullying.

More on Gavin Williamson

He was a fireplace salesman before becoming an MP.

Now he’s truly – and deservedly, MPs believe – feeling the heat.

PM under pressure over two cabinet appointments

In their exchange of texts, Ms Morton told him the government had a limited number of tickets, most of which were reserved for the cabinet and senior parliamentarians such as the father of the house, Sir Peter Bottomley.

But the PM’s critics that say he, as well as Sir Gavin, is guilty of terrible judgement.

Mr Sunak is already facing claims that his re-appointment of Suella Braverman as home secretary less than a week after Liz Truss fired her for a security breach was the result of a “grubby deal” to block Boris Johnson from entering the Tory leadership race.

Now the PM is being accused of reviving the career of a political crony as a reward for playing a key role in his leadership bid, despite being warned by the Tory chairman that Sir Gavin had been accused of serious bullying allegations.

Mr Sunak’s pledge in Downing Street on the day he became prime minister to lead a government of integrity – widely welcomed by Tory MPs at the time – suddenly looks pretty hollow now.

British Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Chief Whip) Wendy Morton leaves Downing Street in London, Britain October 20, 2022. REUTERS/Toby Melville
Image:
Former chief whip Wendy Morton

Allegations come after controversial knighthood

Controversially knighted by Boris Johnson back in March, Sir Gavin had a pretty dreadful record as a cabinet minister and has the unenviable record of being sacked twice.

The first time followed allegations that he leaked security secrets when he was defence secretary, the second after a torrid stint as education secretary in which he presided over school exam chaos during the COVID pandemic.

Previously, when he was government chief whip, Sir Gavin was notorious for keeping a pet tarantula called Cronus – a villainous figure in Greek mythology – in his office. Now he’s the one who’s been bitten.

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Ed Miliband calls for bullying investigation

In his exchanges with Ms Morton, Sir Gavin displayed an unattractive arrogance when he told her: “Also, don’t forget I know how this works so don’t puss me about.”

Did he really mean puss, or was that a typo for something worse?

Ms Morton’s replies to Sir Gavin’s ranting appear perfectly reasonable and restrained.

She comes over as the innocent party here. So she’s getting her revenge on the potty-mouthed Sir Gavin.

And, perhaps, on the prime minister too, for that selection as candidate to succeed former Tory leader William Hague in the Yorkshire Dales constituency of Richmond back in 2014.

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