Politics

Gavin Williamson awarded knighthood despite ministerial blunders and lockdown party

The announcement of the award was made this afternoon.

A statement on the government website read: “The Queen has been pleased to approve that the honour of Knighthood be conferred upon The Rt. Hon. Gavin Williamson CBE MP.” 

Mr Williamson was sacked from his role as Education secretary in September last year, after a series of blunders.

He presided over a number of failings including the 2020 GCSE and A-level exam result fiasco, and came under fire for appearing to confuse two BAME sportsmen who had led poverty-busting campaigns.

Mr Williamson told a journalist he had spoken to free school meal campaigner Marcus Rashford, when it had in fact been Rugby Union player Maro Itoje.

The former cabinet minister led Boris Johnson’s leadership campaign in 2019, with commentators speculating that he was going to be awarded a knighthood in exchange for his silence about any potential damning revelations around the Prime Minister. 

A former chief whip, Mr Williamson has been said to be a ‘master of the dark arts’ with knowledge of the inner workings of the government and Conservative party. 

Infamously he kept a tarantula called Cronus in his office when he was chief whip in order to scare MPs.

He was then appointed Defence Secretary and was forced to take Cronus home after complaints within the MoD. 

Mr Williamson came under fire last year when it emerged a party was held in the Department for Educuation, during a lockdown period when such events were banned.

The party in December 2020 was hosted at the department’s cafe in Westminster and up to two dozen staffers attended.

The DfE did not deny Covid rules had been broken and admitted “it would have been better” not to have held the event while the rest of the country was banned from doing so.

The Liberal Democrats have said the honour is an “insult” to the public.

Munira Wilson MP, the party’s education spokeswoman, said: “The only award Gavin Williamson should be given is the one for worst Education Secretary in history.  

“He failed to get laptops to children who needed them, sleepwalked into the exam crisis and caused chaos for parents and teachers over getting children back to school. People across the country will be outraged at this reward for his abysmal failures.

“It is an insult to every child, parent and teacher who struggled through Covid against the odds. It shows this government only cares about those at the top.”

Bridget Phillipson MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said: “Gavin Williamson left children to go hungry, created two years of complete chaos over exams and failed to get laptops out to kids struggling to learn during lockdowns. His record is astonishing and disgraceful.

“Boris Johnson is proving again it’s one rule for him and his mates and another for the rest of us.

“This shows utter contempt for the challenges children and education staff have faced during the pandemic.”

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