Our columnist The Rebel examines the fallout from the sacking of the Defence Secretary.
The Rebel is a leading political figure close to senior politicians in London as well as Cardiff Bay, and will always give readers the inside track on what is being discussed in the corridors of power.
The sacking of Gavin Williamson as Defence Secretary could, perversely, not have done Teflon Theresa any harm whatsoever.
Punters like their leaders to show a bit of steel, they will see the ‘Number 10’ letter which endorses her position, she has got rid of a troublesome Brexiteer, and brought in the more reasonable and popular Rory Stewart as international development chief.
All right, Labour are bleating about the ‘chaos’ of the Tory Government, but the bearded lefty has his own problems.
The abrupt departure of Williamson over the Huawei leak is interesting because he was at one time extremely close to Theresa – he helped broker the deal with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) which keeps her Government afloat, after meeting DUP leaders in a layby.
There are two rules about leaking in politics – 1. don’t leak things which are truly, properly, officially secret, and 2. don’t leak things which only a very few people know.
Williamson stands accused of breaking both those rules. This was about a leak from the National Security Council (NSC), and was a truly sensitive topic (China’s role in developing 5G technology); it wasn’t just the usual gossip from a cabinet meeting.
You just don’t do that. Only a small group were allowed to know about it. Maybe a dozen people?
In most cases, so many people are in on the secret that the leak could have come from any one of them.
Williamson became the first cabinet minister in more than 30 years to be sacked for leaking.
Teflon Theresa said that a formal leak inquiry had found “compelling evidence” pointing to his responsibility and that he had failed to co-operate fully with the investigation.
She said that others in attendance at the NSC, from where the leak originated, had co-operated, but that Williamson’s conduct “has not been of the same standard”.
She has also said that she had no choice but to fire him to restore confidence in Britain’s most senior intelligence body, which allows top-level ministers to be briefed by security chiefs.
Williamson could now face a formal police prosecution for breaking the Official Secrets Act.
The former Defence Secretary apparently told the Daily Telegraph that he had been “completely screwed” by the outcome of the inquiry.
“She has got the wrong person and the person who did leak this is still out there”, he said.
Williamson is said to have admitted speaking to Steve Swinford, the Daily Telegraph journalist who wrote the story about Huawei, but denied that he had revealed any details of the NSC meeting on April 23.
He also insisted that he had helped with the leak inquiry. “I volunteered everything up – I couldn’t have volunteered more information on the whole thing”, he told The Times. “Frankly I’d rather have had a police inquiry, because the beauty of a police inquiry is I’d have been absolutely exonerated and would have been in the clear”. He later claimed that the inquiry had been “a witch-hunt from the start” and “a kangaroo court with a summary execution”.
But let’s not forget those problems at the other end of the political spectrum for the bearded lefty.
Jezza, who it’s claimed has hardly read a book in his life, endorsed one from an avowed anti-Semite called John Hobson.
The bearded one wrote in his foreward that “Hobson’s railing against the commercial interests that fuel the role of the popular press with tales of imperial might, that then lead on to racist caricatures of African and Asian peoples, was both correct and prescient”.
This is arresting given that Hobson’s railing is partly against the Jewish banker Rothschild and Hobson’s comment that a “single and peculiar race” (ie Jewish) bears responsibility for ‘imperial’ expansion is part of the book.
The Labour MP Catherine McKinnell, who has persistently pressed for the party to change its disciplinary processes and tackle complaints of anti-Semitism more aggressively, urged Labour to “stop excusing anti-Semitism”.
“Acknowledge it is a serious problem that goes right to the top, and deal with it”, she tweeted. “It is destroying our once proud anti-racist party”.
So both political leaders have their own problems.
But Jezza’s might be more serious…
Also on The Eye – how sacked Gavin Williamson uses similar language to person undertaking an extraordinary dirty tricks campaign at a controversial university where senior officials have been suspended.
Our Editor Phil Parry’s memories of his extraordinary 35-year award-winning career in journalism as he was gripped by the incurable disabling condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major new book ‘A Good Story’. Order the book now. The picture doubles as a cut-and-paste poster!