British Cabinet Minister Gavin Williamson resigned on Tuesday following the recent bullying allegations, saying the allegations against him were “becoming a distraction from the good work this government is doing”.
“As you are aware, a complaints process is underway regarding the text messages I sent to a colleague,” Williamson said in his resignation letter, addressed to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
“I follow this process and apologize to the recipient for those messages. Since then, other allegations have been made regarding my past conduct. I have denied the nature of these claims but recognize that they detract from the good work this government is doing for the British people,” he added in the letter.
“I have therefore decided to step down from government to fully comply with the ongoing complaints process and to clear my name of any wrongdoing,” Williamson said.
According to the PA news agency, Sunak accepted his resignation with great sadness. “I would like to thank you for your personal support and loyalty,” Sunak said.
Williamson’s tenure in government lasted only 14 days. Williamson, considered a close ally of Sunak, has faced growing calls to step down following allegations of bullying.
Former deputy chief whip Anne Milton described Williamson’s behavior five years ago when he was chief whip in an interview with Channel 4 News published on Tuesday.
Milton, who worked alongside Williamson in the whip’s office, which enforces party discipline, also described his behavior as “unethical and immoral”.
“My impression was that he liked sweet gossip and would use it as leverage against MPs if the need arose,” Milton told the broadcaster.
Williamson has not yet publicly responded to Milton’s claims. CNN has reached out to the lawmaker for comment.
The Conservative lawmaker was sacked as defense minister in 2019 by then-prime minister Theresa May following the leak of a major decision involving Chinese telecoms giant Huawei.
May’s decision comes after an investigation by the Daily Telegraph revealed that the UK government was preparing to give Huawei access to parts of the country’s 5G mobile network. Williamson, in a letter posted on his Twitter account at the time, “vehemently” denied being the source of the leak.
Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson later appointed him Secretary of State for Education, which is unfortunate as Williamson presided over the controversial exam grading algorithm during the Covid-19 pandemic as tests could not take place. The grading system was abolished after widespread anger from parents, students and educators.
Williamson also made waves by revealing he had confused two of Britain’s main black sports stars, telling an interviewer he had spoken to Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford, who campaigned for free school meals for children in need during the pandemic, when he had actually met rugby player in Maro Ita.
Johnson removed him from the role in 2021. through a cabinet reshuffle.
Williamson is also a former chief whip and served as a minister without portfolio in the Sunak government before resigning on Tuesday.