One of his ministers is preparing to quit, another 30 Tory MPs are organising a rebellion and the chair of the defence selection committee has accused the Government of “hollowing-out” the armed forces – plans for drastic cuts to defence spending aren’t popular.
But the new Defence Secretary hasn’t discussed the cut backs facing the armed forces with the Chancellor – more than three weeks after being appointed.
Gavin Williamson made the astonishing admission as he made a disastrous dispatch box debut at defence questions in the Commons this afternoon.
Asked by Labour MP Bambos Charalambous what discussions he has had with the Chancellor about the funding of his department, Williamson replied:
“As yet I’m to have a formal meeting with the Chancellor but I’m very much looking forward to doing so to discuss our shared future.”
As shadow defence secretary Nia Griffith put it: “It’s one thing to ask and not get but another not even to bother asking”.
It’s very sweet that the new kid is “very much looking forward” to meeting a celebrity like the Chancellor soon – but he seems oblivious to the fact that the Budget took place last week.
It was just one of a number of gaffes made by the newest member of Theresa May’s cabinet of crisis.
He also highlighted his lack of expertise or experience by making some fairly major factual errors in a “Dalek-like” performance:
In the chamber for @GavinWilliamson's first defence questions and he's started by claiming the Royal Navy has 'conventional submarines' as well as nuclear. The Royal Navy submarine fleet has been all nuclear powered since the mid-1990s! Ignorance of basic facts doesn't bode well.
— Paul Sweeney MP (@PaulJSweeney) November 27, 2017
Gavin Williamson debut at despatch box marked by Dalek-style delivery, 'I'll take no lectures…' cliche, referring to Lab opponent as 'you' and refusal to say if he lobbied Treasury against cuts. His ministerial critics may feel vindicated..
— Paul Waugh (@paulwaugh) November 27, 2017
— Deborah Haynes (@haynesdeborah) November 27, 2017
Light dig from Kevan Jones to Gavin Williamson as new defence secretary makes his debut at the despatch box – 'I welcome the honourable gentleman to his new post – and welcome to the world of defence'
— Katy Balls (@katyballs) November 27, 2017
Tory MPs called it “mad” – and other unmentionable things – when May allowed Williamson to effectively promoted himself to the role earlier this month.
Williamson proved today he’s more of a sinking ship than a secret weapon…