UK Prime Minister Fires Defense Secretary over Huawei Leaks

06 May, 2019, 04:58 | Author: Trevor Moore
  • Britain's International Development Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities Penny Mordaunt arrives at 10 Downing Street to attend a Cabinet meeting in London

Williamson's sacking follows an investigation into information leaked to the British press about Chinese telecom Huawei's role in building the Britain's coming 5G Internet.

But it is the PM who will be vulnerable to any counter-attack if - and that is the key word - Mr Williamson can prove that he did not breach National Security Council confidences, and the Official Secrets Act, about Chinese telecoms giant Huawei.

Mr Williamson blamed a vendetta by Sir Mark, who is also the Cabinet Secretary, for his sacking, The Times reports.

The central role he played and the trust he built in brokering a deal with the DUP means he has the potential to work across benches to orchestrate opposition to the Prime Ministers efforts.

He hit back with a letter to the PM in which he cast doubt on the investigation conducted by Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill.

"In what world is it acceptable that the Prime Minister should be the arbiter of whether a politician she believes is guilty of criminal conduct in office should face a criminal investigation?", asked its deputy leader Tom Watson in Parliament on Thursday.

"This seems to have been a kangaroo court reaching a decision in secret which we have no evidence to base any decision on".

Mr Williamson, previously in charge of party discipline, was an important political ally for Mrs May as she struggled to steer Britain through Brexit, its biggest upheaval in decades, without a majority in Parliament and no clear consensus about the best way to leave the EU.

"I am therefore concerned by the manner in which you have engaged with this investigation", she said.

Ms May wrote to Mr Williamson in a letter that there is "compelling evidence suggesting your responsibility for the unauthorised disclosure".

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The information in question emerged last month, having been obtained by the English media from what Prime Minister Theresa May believes is the Department of Defence.

Mr Williamson, who has been defense secretary since 2017, "strenuously" denies leaking the information.

"The Prime Minister thanks all members of the National Security Council for the full cooperation and candour during the investigation and considers the matter closed".

However, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said that the police will not open any investigation without a referral from the Cabinet Office.

He said: "He is a unsafe person not to have onside, Gavin Williamson, who has been around the entrails of politics right at the heart of it for a long time".

Williamson responded in a letter to May, saying he was "sorry you felt recent leaks" originated from the defense ministry.

Earlier, compelling evidence indicating that UK Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson was behind the Huawei leak led to May's decision to sack the high-profile official, Downing Street said on Wednesday.

The former head of the Central Intelligence Agency will meet Mrs May and Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, in London next Wednesday.

A Chinese official accused Williamson of a return to a "Cold War mentality", while British Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond had to cancel a trip to China in the aftermath.

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