With this button I’ll torpedo my career! Final gaffe from ex-Defence Secretary Williamson as MOD release new pictures of him touring a nuclear sub… despite his being sacked since they were taken on Monday
- Gavin Williamson given tour of nuclear submarine two days before his sacking
- Ex-defence secretary removed for allegedly leaking top-secret 5G discussions
- Images of his trip to HM Naval Base Clyde in Faslane were not release until today
- Williamson shown controls of HMS Vigilant which has Trident nuclear missiles
Pictures released by the MoD to celebrate 50 years of Britain having weapons of mass destruction show sacked Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson having a tour of a naval base.
In images taken just two days before he was removed from his position for allegedly leaking sensitive government discussions about Britain’s use of controversial Chinese tech firm Huawei, Mr Williamson can be seen having a tour of a nuclear submarine.
Since April 1969 – for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year – at least one UK ballistic missile submarine has been on patrol beneath the waves of the world’s oceans.
Ahead of his sacking from the Cabinet, former defence secretary Mr Williamson visited HM Naval Base Clyde, Faslane, in Scotland on Monday.
The 44-year-old toured HMS Vigilant, which carries the Trident nuclear missiles.
Former Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson during a visit to HMS Vigilant on Monday – two days before his was sacked for allegedly leaking official secrets
Mr Williamson was shown around HMS Vigilant, which carries the UK’s Trident nuclear deterrent
Williamson is pictured talking to the media after the visit to HM Naval Base Clyde in Faslane. Details of the trip were not released until two days after his sacking
But the images from his visit were not released by the Ministry of Defence until today – two days after he was fired after being accused of leaking a top-secret government discussion on Huawei’s role in helping build Britain’s 5G network, which he denies.
Many country’s are fearful of using the Chinese firm over concerns its communications infrastructure could be used to funnel sensitive data back to its government.
The US has banned the company’s equipment from its development of 5G on security grounds and is pressuring its allies – including the UK – to take a similar approach, warning the firm poses an ‘unacceptable risk’ to national security.
The Duke of Cambridge and new Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt will attend a special service to recognise five decades of Britain’s continuous at-sea nuclear deterrent.
The service at Westminster Abbey aims to recognise the commitment of the Royal Navy in maintaining Operation Relentless – the longest mission in the history of the services.
Gavin Williamson was given a tour of HMS Vigilant just two days before he was sacked by Theresa May
Williamson was shown the controls to the nuclear submarine and given a tour of the naval base
Speaking to reporters on board the Vigilant, Williamson said on Monday: ‘Having that continuous nuclear deterrent, the word is deterrence and it is about delivering peace, it is delivering prosperity and it is delivering security.
‘And that’s what it has been doing every single day it has been at sea.’
Noting how the submarine fleet is ‘literally going head-to-head with adversaries’ in the North Atlantic, he said submariners take an ‘immense amount of risk on to their shoulders’.
‘The submarine service has always, quite rightly, called itself the silent service,’ he added.
‘But I think it maybe just sometimes needs to be just a little bit less modest and talk about some of its amazing achievements.’
This sentiment was echoed by Commodore Bob Anstey, assistant chief of staff submarines, who said the continuous at-sea deterrent is the ‘longest sustained mission’ and one with ‘no end’.
‘The thing we haven’t managed to put across is the sheer scale of what it means to get something like this going for 50 years’, he added.
Since April 1969 – for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year – at least one UK ballistic missile submarine has been on patrol beneath the waves of the world’s oceans
The Duke of Cambridge and new Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt will attend a special service to recognise five decades of Britain’s continuous at-sea nuclear deterrent
Williamson, as commodore-in-chief of the submarine service, will perform a reading at the invite-only event at the abbey.
New Defence Secretary Ms Mordaunt, a Royal Navy reservist and the first female to hold the position, will attend the service in what will be her first public engagement.
But the event has been met with a backlash.
Peace activists, including those from the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), have said they will stage a protest outside.
CND said it was ‘horrified’ at the event, with general secretary Kate Hudson adding that it is ‘morally repugnant’.
‘This sends out a terrible message to the world about our country. It says that here in Britain we celebrate weapons – in a place of worship – that can kill millions of people,’ she said.
Protesters will perform a ‘die-in’ when the service starts, saying it will represent victims of nuclear war.
Defiant Mr Williamson insisted he ‘didn’t say anything’ about Huawei to a journalist during his 11-minute phone call and urged Theresa May to report him to the police.
There are growing calls for Mr Williamson to be prosecuted for breaching the Official Secrets Act, which carries up to two years in prison.
But the PM’s deputy David Lidington said yesterday he did not believe a crime had been committed and instead said the case ‘boils down’ to a breach of the ministerial code.
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