Gavin Williamson could be in line for a knighthood after he was canned as education secretary.
The MP for South Staffordshire is expected to feature in prime minister Boris Johnson’s next honours list, sources told the Telegraph.
Williamson declined to comment when approached by the publication, saying it was “not something I have heard about”.
Despite numerous calls for his resignation, Mr Johnson held onto the frontbencher until his Cabinet reshuffle this week which saw Williamson sacked from the role after two years.
The MP – who has served and also been sacked as defence secretary – said he was proud of the transformational reforms he had brought about as education secretary.
But he was more commonly remembered for his gaffes.
We’ve compiled the top five, for your perusal:
Williamson seemed to save the best until last after he confused Marcus Rashford with Maro Itoje.
In an interview with the Evening Standard, the minister said he believed he had met Rashford, who forced the Government into a U-turn on free school meals provision during the pandemic, on Zoom.
He told the paper: “We met over Zoom and he seemed incredibly engaged, compassionate and charming but then he had to shoot off. I didn’t want to be the one that was holding him back from his training.”
But his advisers later told the newspaper that he had actually met rugby star Itoje.
Get back to in-person teaching
Earlier this month Williamson was widely ridiculed after he decided to use a videolink speech to warn universities to get back to in-person teaching.
He was addressing the Universities UK conference in Newcastle via a large on-stage projector.
Williamson hit out at vice-chancellors who “favour cancel culture over quality”, saying they risk undermining public confidence in higher education.
He also said students were now “making a beeline” towards those universities that were returning to campus life as normal, because they “quite rightly expect that they can study in person alongside other students”.
“Obviously, I am not saying that you relax all those health measures which are there to keep people as safe as possible and minimise the risk of Covid transmission,” Williamson said.
“What I do want to make clear is that I do not expect to see online learning used as a cost-cutting measure.”
But the speech has been widely ridiculed after The Times’ Nicola Woolcock tweeted: “Gavin Williamson doesn’t turn up in person to Universities UK conference in Newcastle – but uses his videolink speech to warn universities to get back to in person teaching…”
Don’t bully- unless you’re Priti Patel
Williamson’s timing was on point after he fronted an anti-bullying video released at the same time as one of the government’s senior ministers faced disciplinary action over allegations of, you guessed it, bullying!
The Department for Education released the informative clip to mark anti-bullying week – with Williamson saying “it is never acceptable”.
Except, it would seem, in parliament, after Boris Johnson came out to defend the home secretary after she was found to have broke the ministerial code.
Patel was adjudged to have “not met the requirement of the ministerial code to treat civil servants with consideration and respect” by Sir Alex Allan, who has since resigned.
The lack of action was described as a “Prime Ministerial cover-up” that is “tantamount to condoning bullying” by shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds, but it was the video by Williamson that is making the biggest splash on social.
The hunting whip
“I am sorry”, Williamson said as he sent out a staged picture following an exam U-turn.
Sat looking glum behind his desk, he acknowledged that the system put in place by regulator Ofqual had produced ‘significant inconsistencies’.
He said: “This has been an extraordinarily difficult year for young people who were unable to take their exams.
“I am sorry for the distress this has caused young people and their parents but hope this announcement will now provide the certainty and reassurance they deserve.”
But the picture released with the announcement has raised eyebrows on social media.
Politics.co.uk editor Ian Dunt questioned why there was a hunting whip laying on his desk, while others have taken umbrage to the position of his mug, which seems impractically far away.
If you thought Dominic Raab was out of line for staying on holiday while Afghanistan fell to the Taliban, you’ve heard nothing yet.
Williamson, fully aware of when A-levels would be released, decided to head away at the beginning of August to the Yorkshire seaside town of Scarborough as exam chaos was beginning to develop.
He later suggested that he was unaware of flaws in the algorithm that led to tens of thousands of teenagers having their exams results downgraded, and missing out on prized university places on 13 August.