Wait. Good God! Is this not Brexit related? Hallelujah it’s a miracle. I declare that the bells should ring out for the next seventy two hours to mark such a momentous occasion.
So Theresa May, you know, the one who looks a bit like a vulture from a Disney animated movie but lacking about half the compassion? Well, she managed to sack Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson for being the alleged source of a leak to The Daily Telegraph regarding Chinese telecoms company Huawei being awarded the right to build parts of The UK’s new 5G Network.
Seeing as getting sacked, if those who fail in their job criteria, seems to apply only to those outside of the cabinet, for the most part this rare removal of a Secretary of State almost feels like a beleaguered May finally exercising some of the authority she has lost over the last few years.
Now at first it’s fair to say that the accused culprit didn’t surprise anyone. I mean Williamson’s sabre rattling towards China in the past regarding the deployment of HMS Queen Elizabeth to the Pacific might have been a hint he had his reservations about the Chinese Regime.
When you lay down the fact this is a man who has made no attempt to hide his ambition for the top job then, given May’s precarious position you can see why people might think it was him. So on the surface a very much open and shut case. Especially as the United States have been very vocal about reviewing sharing intel with any allies that may be working with Huawei, to the extent that an official from The National Security Agency came to London to continue reiterate this.
Yet Williamson’s denials of being behind the leak have been vehement, to the point that in his reply to May’s letter giving him the boot he said ‘I strenuously deny that I was in any way involved in this leak and I am confident that a thorough and formal inquiry would have vindicated my position.’
Well, you would, wouldn’t you? Except, let’s be fair here, Williamson’s almost upstartish rise to the post of Defence Secretary ruffled feathers, and by all accounts ‘Operation Get Gav Out’ was already underway during this brief inquiry by Cabinet Secretary Mark Sedwill. So it seems Gav has a few powerful enemies.
However regardless of whether you see Mr Williamson as guilty of this act, or simply the innocent victim of a larger conspiracy there is a much, much bigger issue that needs to be addressed.
Labour Deputy Leader Tom Watson has been leading calls to launch a criminal inquiry into the leak, and why not? There is a serious debate over whether this leak from The National Security Council constitutes a breach of The Official Secrets Act (OSA). According to Lord Dannatt, former head of the British Army ‘It may be one thing to [leak] from around the cabinet table but for someone to do it from the National Security Council, that’s a quite a different issue.’ Former National Security Advisor Lord Ricketts feels it certainly constitutes a breach of The OSA.
Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Jo Swinson has written to Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick calling for a criminal investigation to establish if the leak constitutes a breach. The Commissioner has in turn look at any complaint lodged. According to David Lidington, May’s De-Facto Deputy and Minister For The Cabinet Office, May feels ‘that this matter has been closed’.
Wonderful. So our PM feels that she can decide whether this should go further without presenting the evidence that lead to this conclusion. This clandestine action certainly has the hallmarks of her patented desire not to disclose anything of any real meaning. Rob Golledge, a former special adviser to Williamson hit’s the nail on the head perfectly; ‘I think we need to have some sort of form of information from the PM to explain what this compelling evidence is. Otherwise, we have this ambiguity where the ex-defence secretary is ardent that he hasn’t been responsible and the PM says he is.’
This government is rotten to the core and has operated on a basis of opaqueness for as long as possible but the Williamson Scandal presents the perfect opportunity to change that. Let’s get a criminal investigation going. We should know what this ‘compelling evidence’ is, after all these are our appointed representatives. If May really has got Williamson caught between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea because of a conversation he admitted to having with The Telegraphs deputy politics editor which then led her investigation to more irrefutable evidence then we should see what it is. Conversely every person should have a right to prove their innocence, and with a leak of this scale, as well as it’s possible implications, the best way to do that is to just launch a criminal enquiry, right?
What we have now is a chance to see how a government with no real mandate and a penchant for withholding some of the cards when being asked to deliver all the information operates. That however can only happen with transparency, and if prior evidence shows us anything, it’s that something big must be done to get that out of this government. Something is rotten in Westminster. Maybe even criminally so. I think it’s time someone called The Fuzz.