As defence secretary in charge of Britain’s armed forces, Gavin Williamson did not exactly conduct himself with the usual stoicism and calm that comes with the role. But one of the least impressive moments he will be remembered for was his response to the Salisbury attack. After Britain had just deported 23 Russian spies from the country, Williamson was widely mocked for saying in a speech at Policy Exchange that Russia ‘should shut up and go away’ when asked how the Kremlin would respond.
It appears that some of his Conservative colleagues certainly haven’t forgotten the gaffe. May’s deputy David Lidington was in the House of Commons today, to answer questions about Williamson’s sacking last night. And when given the opportunity, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancashire couldn’t resist putting a dig into the former Cabinet member. Responding to a question from Dominic Grieve about the importance of collective responsibility in the Cabinet, Lidington told the Chamber that:
‘I think there is great merit in the very old-fashioned precept that members should speak with complete candour within in the room, and shut up when they get outside.’
No prizes for guessing who that was aimed at…