Rishi Sunak will face PMQs this afternoon – hours after his ally Sir Gavin Williamson quit over bullying claims.
The prime minister’s judgement is being questioned after he emerged that he appointed Sir Gavin to a senior role despite being aware of an investigation related to his behaviour.
Sir Gavin’s departure as Cabinet Office minister came shortly after an ex-civil servant – who claimed the MP told them to “slit your throat” – made a formal complaint.
In his resignation letter, he vowed to clear his name of wrongdoing – and said he “refutes the characterisation of these claims”.
“I recognise these are becoming a distraction for the good work this government is doing,” Sir Gavin wrote to Mr Sunak.
Sir Gavin – who had already been sacked by Theresa May and Boris Johnson – has also been accused of sending expletive-laden messages to former chief whip Wendy Morton where he complained about being refused an invitation to the Queen’s funeral.
He was also the subject of claims he bullied a former official at the Ministry of Defence and engaged in “unethical and immoral” behaviour while he was chief whip.
Late last night, Sir Gavin said he would not be taking severance pay, tweeting: “This is taxpayers’ money and it should go instead toward the government’s priorities like reducing the NHS’s waiting lists.”
He quit following a meeting with the prime minister yesterday evening.
Accepting the resignation “with great sadness”, Mr Sunak told Sir Gavin: “I would like to thank you for your personal support and loyalty.”
Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner has said the events show yet another Tory government has descended into chaos”.
She said: “This is yet another example of Rishi Sunak’s poor judgement and weak leadership. It is clear that he is trapped by the grubby backroom deals he made to dodge a vote, and is incapable of putting country before party.”
And Lib Dem deputy leader Daisy Cooper said: “This should be the third and final time Gavin Williamson is forced out of the cabinet.
“Rishi Sunak has serious questions to answer about why he appointed Gavin Williamson, then stood by him instead of sacking him. His promise to lead a government of integrity has now been left in tatters.”