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Gavin Williamson, the former defence secretary

Sacked British defence minister wanted to invade Nigeria & other African countries

5 May 2019

Apart from leaking secret discussions on Huawei, notorious former defence secretary Gavin Williamson also advocated British intervention abroad, and joked about Theresa May’s health, a newspaper report has revealed.

He is reported to have told fellow Tories that Theresa May’s type-1 diabetes made her unfit for her job – a claim that the former cabinet member vehemently denies. The jibe came weeks before Williamson allegedly leaked details of a National Security Council (NSC) meeting on Chinese tech giant Huawei, according to the Sunday Times.

The remark infuriated May’s allies, one of whom said it was “absolutely outrageous that he would attempt to use the prime minister’s health condition against her.” Others insisted that she was in good health despite having to use insulin injections at least twice a day. It is still unclear if the diatribe could cost Williamson his job.

However, growing frustration over Williamson’s standing wasn’t restricted to his alleged attacks on May’s health. At one point, he suggested that the embattled prime minister should send Royal Navy ships to the contested waters of the South China Sea.

When Downing Street rejected the call, fearing that it could start a military confrontation, Williamson allegedly scrawled “f**k the prime minister” on the relevant paperwork, which was reported back to May’s office.

The Sunday Times has also quoted a NSC document showing that Williamson was also determined to deploy British troops to Africa. According to the paper, he wanted military chiefs to present plans for intervention in at least five African states, including Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Kenya and Egypt.

Williamson later hit back and rejected the claims, directly accusing May of running a “smear” campaign against him. “Of course no one has ever suggested it. Classic PM / Sedwill smear because they don’t have any evidence,” he told SkyNews, referring to the cabinet secretary and head of the civil service.

The minister, formerly a ceramics firm director, rose quickly under May as he ran her leadership campaign in 2016. But after being appointed defense secretary, he made a name for himself by producing a flurry of indiscreet comments.

At times, he tried to show off his military nous by telling defense chiefs to mount “really expensive guns”on tractors, and use Coca-Cola lorries to disguise missile defense systems. As a politician, he unambiguously threatened to topple May, reportedly telling fellow Tories: “I made her – I can break her.”

In international arena, he provoked an array of scandals, including the one in which he notoriously told Russia “to go away and shut up.” The slur raised ire in the Kremlin, and was widely ridiculed by political commentators and journalists, with many branding his comments “childish.”

It is not clear when Williamson contemplated his intervention in Nigeria,. However, during the last presidential election in the West African country, the governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, responding to calls from the opposition for the “international community” to intervene in alleged plots by the ruling party to subvert the will of people, said: “Those that are calling for anyone to come and intervene in Nigeria, we are waiting for the person that would come and intervene, they would go back in body bags.

“We are waiting for the person that will come and intervene. They will go back in body bags, because nobody will come to Nigeria and tell us how to run our country. We got that independence and we are trying to run our country as decently as possible and we know the history of those countries that are trying to teach us these things. We have read their history.

“We also know that at their own stages of development, they went through these challenges. So please, let’s work together, let’s advise one another — but don’t lecture us.”

Williamson was in Nigeria in November last year and said the UK stood side by side with Nigeria in its fight against terrorism.

A version of this report first appeared in

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