British cabinet office minister Gavin Williamson resigned from his role on Tuesday following recent allegations of bullying, saying the allegations against him were “becoming a distraction from the good work this government is doing.”
“As you know, there is an ongoing complaints process regarding text messages I sent to a colleague,” Williamson said in his resignation letter, addressed to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
“I comply with this process and have apologized to the recipient for those messages. Since then, other allegations have been made about my past behaviour. I refute the nature of these claims, but I recognize that these highlight the good work this government is doing for the British people,” he added in the letter.
“I have therefore decided to step back from government so that I can fully comply with the ongoing complaints process and clear my name of any wrongdoing,” said Williamson.
Sunak accepted his resignation “with great sadness,” according to the PA news agency. “I would like to thank you for your personal support and loyalty,” said Sunak.
Williamson’s current stint in government lasted only 14 days. Considered a close ally of Sunak, Williamson had faced increasing calls to quit following allegations of bullying.
Former deputy chief whip Anne Milton described Williamson’s behavior five years ago, when he was chief whip, as “intimidating” and “intimidating,” in an interview with Channel 4 news released Tuesday.
Milton, who worked alongside Williamson in the whip’s office – which enforces party discipline – described his behavior as “unethical and unethical.”
“I got the impression that he was very fond of gossip and would use it as leverage against MPs if the need arose,” Milton told the broadcaster.
Williamson has yet to publicly respond to Milton’s claims. CNN has reached out to the lawmaker for comment.
The Conservative Party lawmaker was previously sacked as defense minister in 2019 by then Prime Minister Theresa May following the leaking of a key decision relating to Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei.
May’s decision followed an investigation into how the Daily Telegraph newspaper discovered that the UK government was preparing to give Huawei access to parts of the country’s 5G mobile network. Williamson at the time “vigorously” denied being the source of the leak, in a letter posted to his Twitter account.
Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson later appointed him Secretary of State for Education, an unfortunate brief that saw Williamson preside over a controversial exam grading algorithm during the Covid-19 pandemic, as testing could not take place. The grading system was scrapped after widespread outrage from parents, students and educators.
Williamson also made waves by appearing to confuse two major Black British sports stars, telling an interviewer he had spoken to Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford – who has been campaigning for free school meals for children in need during the pandemic – when it actually had been. meet rugby player Maro Itoje.
Johnson removed him from the role in 2021 during a cabinet reshuffle.
Williamson is also a former chief whip, and before his resignation on Tuesday, held the position of Minister without Portfolio in the Sunak government.