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

Whyyyy would you keep a spider on your desk

The A-level results fiasco is not only an absolute mess, but given how foreseeable it was, incredibly embarrassing. At the head of it all was Gavin Williamson, the Education Secretary, forced into a humiliating U-turn, followed by a deeply cringe apology tour of TV studios.

Williamson is no stranger to cringe moments. Barring perhaps Matt Hancock, no politician around has had more. The U-turn was just the latest.

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

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.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

Meet the students of results day whose A-level grades got reduced

It’s official: A-level students will get their teacher-predicted grades after all

‘I had my heart set on Liverpool’: The A-level U-turn came too late for these students

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