He's like a gale of fresh air

A political typhoon has suddenly burst in on the heart of the Cabinet in the form of new Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, who promises - or threatens - to blow a gust of realism into the Westminster scene.

Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 6:04 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 7:15 am

Williamson, the former chief whip, was barely known outside Westminster - but within days of his new appointment, he was making big headlines throughout Fleet Street, including a reported spectacular bust-up with Chancellor Philip Hammond.

He has reprieved ‘military’ dogs who had been sentenced to death now that their service had finished. And he has warned British jihadist terrorists that they would be hunted down and eliminated. But above all, he has been bold enough to tell Chancellor Philip Hammond he could take no more “freebies” using RAF aircraft until he had paid the bill for previous trips. The bill was immediately paid.

This move apparently followed a reported row between the two Cabinet ministers, in which the Prime Minister had to intervene, telling them to grow up. Williamson’s problem - although it should be regarded as a virtue - is that he says, in plain, uncluttered English, what most of the country thinks.

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Yet, surprise, surprise, he is being branded “childish”, even by some of his own colleagues, for expressing such views as those he expressed about British jihadists. That’s the trouble with Westminster-speak - politicians tend to tiptoe around issues with feeble euphemisms, rather than charging into the heart of the matter and saying bluntly what they really mean.

So when someone like Williamson - who kept a tarantula spider on his desk when Chief Whip - speaks his mind without shilly-shallying about, he simply shocks traditional parliamentarians yet is applauded by the public at large.

Williamson is a force of nature, whose talents were recognised by David Cameron and Theresa May. He is the man to blow away the cobwebs of obfuscation which bedevil the British political scene. He will bring a gale of fresh air to the proceedings and could before long be included in the bookmakers’ lists as a possible successor to Theresa May. A bit far-fetched perhaps, but Williamson’s ambition is like a coiled spring about to be released. Watch this space!