Leaks from the vicinity of the Defence Secretary are not a new thing: during the tenure of the disgraced Liam Fox they were commonplace. The only difference between then and now is that Young Dave failed to take any action - when he should have nailed the SOB and then sacked him - while Theresa May, to the astonishment of those accustomed to her lack of decision making, did indeed take decisive action.
The result is that Gavin “Stupid Boy” Williamson has lost his ministerial motor, in addition to his credibility, after he was identified as the source of the Huawei leak. The Chinese telecoms firm will be allowed to help build the UK’s 5G network, and not everyone is happy about the appearance of what is seen by many as an arm of the Beijing Government. The opportunity to leak for political advantage was all too clear.
BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg has conceded “Number 10 now says there was ‘compelling evidence’ to prove that it was him. Officials carrying out the inquiry did look at his phone. He did, by his own admission, have a conversation on the particular day with the journalist who broke the story”. Sounds like it was him, then.
She then, though, concludes “These are strange times indeed”. Strange for Theresa May to make a decision, presumably. But what is more strange - and, indeed, disturbing - is that the Government is so bereft of talent that the Prime Minister has to call on a failed fireplace salesman to oversee the country’s defences. One who “swears on his children’s lives” that he didn’t do it. He’s a Grade A shit. And he got caught.
Worse, one look at the leak suspects shows that Williamson is not the only one in the cabinet who could not be trusted any further than he could usefully be chucked. Apart from Fox still being there - not a good idea - there is Jeremy Hunt (the former Culture Secretary) and Sajid Javid, another greasy pole climber of no known principle.
And to cap it all, Williamson’s replacement is to be Penny Mordaunt, who can only be described as “honest as the day is long” if the day in question is the 21st of December. We are seeing one liar replaced by another. Ms Mordaunt is infamous for straight-up lying about Turkey joining the EU, and the ability of the UK to veto it, if it did.
As the Independent reported at the time, “Penny Mordaunt, the armed forces minister, said the UK ‘does not’ have a veto over the new membership of states such as Turkey - despite it being a key part of the Treaty of the European Union”. There was more. “On Turkey’s chances of joining the EU, she said: ‘This is our last chance to have a say on this, we’re not going to be consulted on whether those countries should join. Those countries are going to join, it is a matter of when.’” She was lying. Even Cameron disowned her.
The chances of Turkey getting to the stage where it was ready to join the EU are vanishingly small. And every EU member state has a veto. The reality is that Greece would drop the black ball in the bag first, second, and last. But the Leave campaign had to dog-whistle. And its public faces, like Penny Mordaunt, had to lie.
But we are now being distracted by eager hacks telling us to “look over there” at our first female Defence Secretary. We should be looking at the unprincipled liar.
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