SIR Gavin Williamson told Liz Truss’ chief whip “you f*** us all over” during an outburst over the Queen’s funeral.
The Minister of State without Portfolio, 46, has been accused of bullying the former Conservative Party enforcer Wendy Morton after a series of expletive-laden text messages came to light.
4Rishi Sunak is standing by Gavin Williamson, pictured, following his WhatsApp outburstCredit: AFP4Sir Gavin is now facing an inquiry by CCHQ into the messages sent to Wendy MortonCredit: Getty4The row erupted over seats for the Queen’s funeralCredit: GettyPrime Minister Rishi Sunak is standing by him, according to cabinet office minister Oliver Dowden.
Mr Dowden said the phone messages were sent “in the heat of the moment”.
The allegations, reported by The Sunday Times newspaper, have surfaced only days following criticism of Sunak for reappointing Suella Braverman as Home Secretary after she was fired by his predecessor for breaching email security rules.
The newspaper said he was angry about not being invited to Queen Elizabeth’s funeral and that Morton had made an official complaint to the governing party.
“These were said in the heat of the moment, expressing frustration. It was a difficult time for the party. I think he now accepts that he shouldn’t have done it and he regrets doing so,” Dowden told Sky News.
“He shouldn’t have sent those messages … But of course the prime minister continues to have confidence in Gavin Williamson.”
Since being appointed as Britain’s third prime minister in two months almost two weeks ago, Sunak has come under pressure for his government appointments, particularly Braverman’s reappointment as Home Secretary.
She has been criticised by some MPs for inflaming tensions over immigration by saying Britain faces an “invasion” from people travelling in small boats crossing the English Channel.
“Rishi Sunak’s pledge to restore integrity, professionalism and accountability has been exposed as nothing more than hollow words,” said Angela Rayner, deputy leader of Labour Party.
“Far from stopping the rot in Downing Street, he’s letting it fester.”
Sir Gavin is now facing an inquiry by Conservative Central Headquarters (CCHQ) into the messages which were sent over a number of weeks.
Most government tickets for the Queen’s funeral had been kept for Cabinet ministers, with the remainder going to senior MPs.
In the WhatsApp exchange, Sir Gavin claimed it was “very poor how [parliamentary colleagues] who aren’t favoured have been excluded from the funeral”.
When Ms Morton denied that was the case, he responded: “Well [it] certainly looks it, which I think is very s*** and perception becomes reality. Also don’t forget I know how this works so don’t push me about.”
Ms Morton emphasised the number of places for the funeral was “extremely limited”, but Sir Gavin replied: “This shows exactly how you have rigged it. It is disgusting you are using her death to punish people who are just supportive, absolutely disgusting.
“Let’s see how many times you f*** us all over. There is a price for everything.”
The former Tory chairman Sir Jake Berry, said that he told Mr Sunak and his incoming chief of staff about the complaint on October 24, the day Ms Morton indicated she wanted to make a formal complaint and a day before Mr Sunak entered Downing Street.
In other messages sent by Sir Gavin to Ms Morton accuse her of a “patronising and condescending tone” on October 17, after she had asked why was unlikely to vote in the Commons.
On his first day in power, Mr Sunak promised his administration “will have integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level”.
Sir Gavin, told The Sunday Times he “of course [regretted] getting frustrated” and hoped to work “positively” with Ms Morton in the future.
A spokesman for CCHQ said: “The Conservative Party has a robust complaints process in place.”
4Rishi Sunak has come under fire for his appointments of Williamson and Suella Braverman to his CabinetCredit: PA
Story Credit: thesun.co.uk