Did Gavin's 'sinister' photocall include a warning to his enemies?
Did Gavin’s ‘sinister’ photocall include a warning to his enemies? MPs believe Education Secretary posed with ‘whip on his desk’ to remind ‘circling vultures’ he used to be Chief Whip and ‘knows where the bodies are buried’
- Gavin Williamson posed in Department for Education office after A-levels U-turn
- Mr Williamson was pictured sat behind his desk which had a whip placed at front
- Tory MPs believe the whip was a hidden message to Boris Johnson and critics
Tory MPs believe Gavin Williamson was sending a warning to his enemies when he posed for photographs in his office with a whip on his desk after announcing the A-level results U-turn.
Conservative backbenchers believe the whip was ‘not there by chance’ when Mr Williamson took part in the photocall.
They believe it was likely a reminder to MPs and Boris Johnson that as a former chief whip he knows ‘where the bodies are buried’ and that it would be unwise to criticise or sack him.
Mr Williamson served as chief whip for Theresa May’s government from July 2016 to November 2017 when he was tasked with enforcing party discipline and as a result he is likely to know the details of colleagues’ past indiscretions.
Gavin Williamson posed for photographs in his Department for Education office yesterday after announcing the A-level results U-turn
The inclusion of a whip (bottom right of the picture) has been interpreted by Tory MPs as a message to the Education Secretary’s critics
The presence of the whip in the photographs – as well as a small red book placed on top of it – sparked widespread comment on social media.
Chief whips are said to keep small black books, similar to the red one pictured, which they fill with information to be used to put pressure on MPs who may be thinking about rebelling.
Tory MPs believe the inclusion of the whip – and the red book – was ‘not done by accident’.
One Conservative backbencher told MailOnline: ‘Why was there a picture with a whip on the desk? That was not done by accident.
‘Is that a reminder to Boris that he knows where the bodies are buried? I don’t know, but it is not going to have been an accident.
‘It is a reminder that he was chief whip. It was extraordinary.’
The MP added: ‘It was not there by chance.’
One Tory MP told the Telegraph that they believed the inclusion of the whip was ‘definitely a message to the PM’.
Another backbencher had told the newspaper that the ‘vultures are circling’ Mr Williamson over his handling of the A-level results chaos.
But they insisted Mr Williamson is a ‘master of finding someone else to chuck under a bus’.
MPs believe Mr Williamson, who played a key role in Mr Johnson’s Tory leadership bid, is likely to stay in the Cabinet because the PM will want to avoid creating a ‘very effective enemy’ who is ‘much better as a fixer or schemer ‘ than as a minister.
Government sources said Mr Johnson valued loyalty and that Mr Williamson had been with the PM ‘from the start’.
Many Tory MPs therefore believe that Mr Johnson will not be ‘bounced’ into getting rid of his Education Secretary.
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