Every deeply cringe thing Gavin Williamson has done in his political career

Just can’t believe he’s been sacked….wanna run to you Gav


Farewell Gavin Williamson, the lobotomised man’s Alan Partridge. He’s inexplicably lost his job as education secretary in Boris Johnson’s autumn reshuffle, despite the triumphant implementation of an algorithm to judge people’s A-Level grades.

Williamson is no stranger to cringe moments. Barring perhaps Matt Hancock, no politician around has had more.

From tarantulas to giant Cornish pasties, here’s every cringe thing Gavin Williamson has done in his political career.

Confusing two black sports players, somehow

If you’d had a Zoom call with Marcus Rashford – the country’s real prime minister – you’d probably remember it. If you were a member of the government who’d basically been forced to change policy by Rashford’s tweets, you’d probably remember it. And if you were a raging Tory, you’d probably know all of the England rugby team by sight alone.

Yet, somehow, Gavin Williamson managed to confuse footballer Marcus Rashford with rugby player Maro Itoje.

“We met over Zoom and he seemed incredibly engaged, compassionate and charming but then he had to shoot off,” Williamson told the Evening Standard in an interview, speaking about Marcus Rashford.

Except, later his team had to clarify it was in fact Itoje. Williamson apologised for his “genuine mistake.

What was worse for Williamson was that the interview came amid intense speculation over a reshuffle where he was (accurately) touted to be in line for the cut. A nice, incident-free, fluffy interview might have helped things.

Telling unis to stop teaching over Zoom – while on Zoom

In-person teaching has been controversial for universities. But now there are no restrictions, Williamson was keen to push his message to university leaders.

Possibly reeling from the fallout of his little sports mix-up the day before, Gavin couldn’t make it to a Universities UK conference and instead had to deliver his speech via videolink.

This would have been fine, were it not for the message – that universities should return to face-to-face teaching.

All hail the man on the big screen.

Keeping a tarantula on his desk to scare people

During his time as Chief Whip, Williamson kept a tarantula called Cronus on his desk.

Cronus lived in a glass box and was used in an attempt to look hard, or something.

“You have to look at different ways to persuade people to vote with the government and it’s great to have Cronus as part of the team,” he told The Times.

Telling Russia to ‘shut up and go away’

After the Salisbury poisonings, Anglo-Russian tensions were high. With an international incident of that gravity, sensitive diplomacy was needed. You don’t want to blunder into a war now, do you?

Enter Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, who drops the iconic line: “Frankly, Russia should go away, and it should shut up.”


Posing with a Cornish pasty in the manner of a bumbling old man delighted with his prize-winning marrow

His whole Insta, in fact, is in the manner of someone pretending to be an Instagram politician. Gav isn’t the worst Insta follow in the world, though – lots of dog pics.

And tell me this isn’t your uni housemate who can barely cook, delighted with themselves.

Getting sacked as Defence Secretary but swearing on his kids’ life he was innocent

Boris Johnson’s cabinet is serving as a kind of career rehab clinic for previously sacked ministers. Not only Priti Patel – sacked as Minister for International Development for doing a bit of diplomacy on her holidays – but Gavin Williamson too.

Williamson was sacked only last year after a leak from the National Security Council. He reportedly swore on his children’s lives that he didn’t do it.

Again, very playground. Although it does open the door to a Tory minister in the not too distant future saying “I swear down I won’t sell the NHS.” Now he’s the Education Secretary.

Insisting he wasn’t going to U-turn on the exam results, only to do exactly that

In principle, there’s nothing wrong with holding firm and then changing course when you need to. What is embarrassing is watching what happened in Scotland, when the whole world realised a U-turn was inevitable, giving an interview to The Times saying “no U-turn, no change,” then days later…doing just that.

Not really any need to give that interview, was there Gav.

Posing for some quite weird pictures in the middle of the exam chaos

Let’s do some role play. You’ve just had to do a massive, screeching, humiliating U-turn, two days after insisting you wouldn’t. Hundreds of thousands of students are anxious about their futures. What you doing?

Of course, the answer is simple: pose for some picture. The only difficulty is, which kind of pictures? The easily-captioned mug picture?

Or the unsubtly-positioned whip and red book to remind colleagues you know their secrets?

Or both, why not.

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Featured image portrait of Williamson: UK Parliament via CC BY 3.0 license