Rishi Sunak has been urged to sack Sir Gavin Williamson after details emerged of abusive text messages he sent to the former government chief whip.
The Cabinet Office minister accused Wendy Morton of using the death of the Queen to “punish” senior MPs who were out of favor with Liz Truss’s government.
According to text messages between the pair published by the Sunday Times, Sir Gavin told her: “Well let’s see how many more times you fuck us all over. There is a price for everything.”
The paper said the then party chairman, Sir Jake Berry, informed Sunak the day before he entered Number 10 that Morton had submitted a formal complaint to the party about Sir Gavin’s conduct.
Both Sir Jake and Morton lost their jobs in the ensuing reshuffle while Sir Gavin – a former chief whip and a supporter of Mr Sunak – returned to government.
In the text messages, Sir Gavin said it was “very poor” that privy councilors like him who “aren’t favoured” had been excluded from the funeral at Westminster Abbey.
Despite Morton’s repeated insistence that there was not enough space for all privy councilors to attend the event, Sir Gavid replied: “Well certainly looks it which think is very shit and perception becomes reality. Also don’t forget I know how this works so don’t puss me about.
“It’s very clear how you are going to treat a number of us which is very stupid and you are showing fuck all interest in pulling things together.
“Also this shows exactly how you have rigged it is is (sic) disgusting you are using her death to punish people who are just supportive, absolutely disgusting.”
“Well let’s see how many more times you fuck us all over. There is a price for everything.”
Sir Jake Berry told the paper that he was told on October 24 that a complaint had been made against Sir Gavin regarding allegations of “bullying and intimidation of parliamentary colleagues”.
He said: “In compliance with protocol, in my capacity as party chairman, I informed both the new prime minister and his incoming chief of staff about the complaint on the same day.”
According to the Sunday Times, the PM did not recall the “specifics” of their conversation.
Sir Gavin, who is also a former chief whip, has twice been sacked from cabinet – once by Theresa May for leaking details of a national security council meeting and by Boris Johnson as education secretary over the Covid-19 A-levels debacle.
A Tory spokesman told HuffPost UK: “The Conservative Party has a robust complaints process in place.”
Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper said: “These shocking revelations raise yet more serious questions about Rishi Sunak’s judgement.
“Gavin Williamson should never have been reappointed to cabinet after the damage he did to our children’s education.
“Now it emerges that on top that Sunak ignored a complaint about Williamson’s behaviour.
“If the prime minister was serious about restoring integrity he would sack Gavin Williamson. Instead, once again he is prioritizing the interests of the Conservative Party over those of the country.”
Deputy Labor leader Angela Rayner said: “It beggars belief that Rishi Sunak claims not to remember a conversation just days ago with the Tory chair about a serious complaint against a controversial appointee to his own cabinet.
“It’s not just the Prime Minister’s memory that’s in question, but his judgement. In his desperation to dodge a vote, he put party management before the country, doing grubby deals to appoint multiple ministers accused of misconduct.
“Gavin Williamson was sacked from cabinet twice, yet despite risking national security, he’s back at the heart of government.
“Rishi Sunak’s pledge to restore integrity, professionalism and accountability has been exposed as nothing more than hollow words. Far from stopping the rot in Downing Street, he’s letting it tighter.”
Sir Gavin told The Sunday Times: “I regret of course getting frustrated about the way colleagues and I felt we were being treated.
“I am happy to speak with Wendy and I hope to work positively with her in the future as I have in the past.”