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    Gavin Williamson, the Conservative Party's Chief Whip, addresses the party's conference in Manchester, Britain October 4, 2017.

    Mr. Who? May Replaces Fallon as UK Defense Secretary With an Unknown Quantity

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    After Michael Fallon resigned as UK Defense Secretary on Wednesday, Theresa May has replaced him with an MP few outside Westminster have ever heard of. So who is the new man?

    Mr. Williamson, appointed as the new Defense Secretary, was invited to Downing Street on Thursday, November 3, and given the job following the resignation of Michael Fallon.

    Fallon had admitted touching a female journalist's knee during a conference dinner 15 years ago. His admission came as the British parliament has been engulfed in a sexual harassment and misconduct scandal and Mr. Fallon later said his conduct had "fallen short" of the standard required of a minister.

    Britain's Defense minister Michael Fallon waits outside the Foreign Office on December 15, 2016 in London.
    © AFP 2019 / Stefan Rousseau
    Britain's Defense minister Michael Fallon waits outside the Foreign Office on December 15, 2016 in London.

    So who is the newly appointed member of May's cabinet? 

    Mr. Williamson has been Conservative MP for South Staffordshire in the English Midlands since 2010 and has a majority of 22,733.

    He is only 41 but has played several key roles behind the scenes since the Conservatives came to power in 2010.

    Mr. Williamson was parliamentary private secretary to then Prime Minister David Cameron between October 2013 and his resignation in July 2016, after the Brexit referendum.

    Appointment Is a 'Risk' 

    He was then appointed Chief Whip, a role which became even more important in June this year when after a largely unsuccessful election campaign, Mrs. May lost her majority and was forced to rely on the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) from Northern Ireland to keep a working majority.

    Mr. Williamson was head of the whips, whose job it was to make sure Tory MPs towed the party line. He has impressed Mrs. May enough for her to promote him to Defense Secretary as a safe pair of hands.

    The choice of Mr. Williamson is something of a surprise as he has no military background and several political pundits had expected Mrs. May to choose Penny Mordaunt, a former armed forces minister who comes from a Royal Navy family.

    Rodney Atkinson, founder of freenations.net website, one of Britain's most successful political economists and a former occasional adviser to ministers, told Sputnik of his shock at the appointment.

    "I don't think anyone has heard of him before. He got into Parliament in 2010. He has done nothing at all in government of any sort. He voted to remain in the EU…he is obviously a trusted person within the [Tory] party and doubtless he also knows where the skeletons are buried," Mr. Atkinson told Sputnik.

    When it comes to "a very important office of state — defense — at these difficult times, it [the appointment] seems a bit of a risk unless of course he is being asked to carry on and do as he's told given the established views," Mr. Atkinson added.

    Mr. Atkinson said Mr. Williamson was a bit of a blank slate as far as defense policy is concerned as he had never made any utterances about it in public before his appointment. 

    Former Chief Whip, Future PM? 

    The social media users have also reacted to the new appointment, with some even tipping Mr. Williamson as the future Prime Minister. 

    Mr. Williamson arrived at the Ministry of Defense on Thursday morning to meet military chiefs but did not speak to reporters.

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    appointment, military, minister, defense, UK Defense Ministry, Gavin Williamson, Michael Fallon, Theresa May, United Kingdom
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