Theresa May facing backlash from ‘seething’ Tories after appointing former chief whip Gavin Williamson as Defence Secretary

Julian Smith becomes chief whip with government’s fate resting on his shoulders

Julian Smith, an MP few have heard of, is now the main man standing between survival and failure for Theresa May’s government. In the four months since the general election, Mr Smith’s predecessor, Gavin Williamson, dealt with three nascent coups and sorted out the deal with the Democratic Unionist Party which kept Mrs May in power. Mr Smith must deal with worse in the coming weeks.

Mr Smith, 46, the MP for Skipton and Ripon since 2010, is in his fourth job in the whips’ office. He joined the government after the 2010 election as junior aide and became a junior whip in 2015 under David Cameron. He reached the top job today.

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Tory backlash as chief whip replaces Fallon at defence

Theresa May’s appointment of Gavin Williamson as defence secretary today triggered a backlash in the parliamentary Conservative party.

The 41-year-old South Staffordshire MP was promoted from chief whip to the cabinet after the Westminster sleaze scandal claimed its first scalp with the resignation of Sir Michael Fallon.

Some critics questioned Mr Williamson’s military expertise and defence sector credentials, while others, who included rivals for the senior government portfolio, expressed anger that he was promoted to the cabinet without having held ministerial office before.

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Theresa May facing backlash from ‘seething’ Tories after appointing former chief whip Gavin Williamson as Defence Secretary

Theresa May is facing a Tory backlash over her decision to appoint Gavin Williamson as the new Defence Secretary as Conservative MPs claimed it was the action of a “shell-shocked” Prime Minister.

Mr Williamson’s elevation from Chief Whip stunned Westminster on Thursday with many observers having expected the Prime Minister to replace Sir Michael Fallon with one of his Ministry of Defence deputies.

Mrs May’s decision to promote the 41-year-old has left many Tories privately seething at the appointment which comes as the Government wrestles with the fallout of the growing Westminster sleaze scandal.

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LATEST: Skipton and Ripon MP Julian Smith appointed Chief Whip

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‘Head-in-hands despair’ at Gavin Williamson’s Government promotion, says Tory ex-minister

New Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has said he is “both honoured and excited” by his promotion, following Sir Michael Fallon’s resignation amid sleaze allegations.

The Scarborough-born former chief whip’s appointment by Theresa May to one of the Cabinet’s most senior posts provoked widespread surprise at Westminster, as he has never before held ministerial office.

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Gavin Williamson: The meteoric rise of the tarantula-owning, Remain-voting Tory who has been appointed Defence Secretary

Gavin Williamson has undergone a meteoric rise since he was first elected as an MP in 2010.

Just two years ago the 41-year-old’s name would have been almost unknown outside of his South Staffordshire constituency.

But now, after his appointment as Defence Secretary, he is one of the most powerful people in Whitehall.

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See also: Westminster Sex Pests

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