Gavin Williamson: how did ex fireplace salesman get into politics, who is his wife, net worth and is he a Sir?

The Tory MP for South Staffordshire previously served as the Defence Minister and Education Secretary in Boris Johnson’s cabinet

Watch more of our videos on Shots!
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Prime Minister (PM) Rishi Sunak has been questioned over the resignation of Sir Gavin Williamson during PM Question Time. Williamson resigned from his cabinet role as Minister of State Without a Portfolio on 8 November after being accused of bullying.

Williamson, who vowed to “clear my name of any wrongdoing”, was described as “a pathetic bully” by Labour leader Keir Starmer.

This is not the first time the former cabinet minister has been forced to resign, with him previously having to hand in his notice for his other two cabinet roles as Defence Minister and Education Secretary.

The former fireplace salesman joined parliament in 2010 after being elected as the MP for South Staffordshire.

So, who is Sir Gavin Williamson, how did he get into politics and what has he said about his latest resignation? Here’s everything you need to know.

Gavin Williamson resigned as Minister of State Without a Portfolio on 8 November (Pic: Getty Images)Gavin Williamson resigned as Minister of State Without a Portfolio on 8 November (Pic: Getty Images)
Gavin Williamson resigned as Minister of State Without a Portfolio on 8 November (Pic: Getty Images)

Who is Sir Gavin Williamson?

Sir Gavin Williamson is the MP for South Staffordshire. The 45-year-old was born in Scarborough, Yorkshire, and graduated from the University of Bradford with a degree in social sciences. His parents were both Labour voters, but Williamson pursued politics in the Conservative Party, becoming the chair of Conservative Students in 1997.

After graduation he worked as a manager in Yorkshire fireplace manufacturer Elgin & Hall until 2004, became managing director of Aynsley China pottery firm in 2005 and worked for architectural design firm NPS North West Limited until he became an MP in 2010.

Since becoming a politician he has served as Chief Whip in Theresa May’s government, held the role of Defence Minister and Education Secretary during former Prime Minister (PM) Boris Johnson’s cabinet and prior to his recent resignation was the Minister of State Without Portfolio under Rishi Sunak.

How did he get into politics?

Williamson has been interested in politics since he was at university, becoming the national chair of Conservative Students in 1997. He was elected as Conservative councillor for Seamer, North Yorkshire In 2001 and would go on to serve as deputy chairman of Staffordshire Area Conservatives, chairman of Stoke-on-Trent Conservative Association and vice-chairman of Derbyshire Dales Conservative Association.

He was selected as the Conservative candidate for South Staffordshire in 2010, winning the seat for David Cameron’s government.

Is he a Sir?

Williamson was knighted on 3 March 2022 as part of the 2022 Special Honours for Political Service. He received the honour from then PM Boris Johnson, despite having a chequered ministerial record.

The MP for South Staffordshire had to resign from his position as Defence Minister in 2019 after allegedly leaking secure information and during his role as Education Secretary during the Covid-19 pandemic he came under fire for his part in the controversial 2020 exam grading policy.

Is he married?

Williamson married former primary school teacher Joanne Eland in 2001, with the pair going on to have two daughters. In 2018 in an interview with the Daily Mail he revealed that he had an affair with a colleague whilst working as the managing director of Yorkshire fireplace company Elgin & Hall in 2004.

He said: “We had to travel together and spent a lot of time in each other’s company, the relationship became flirtatious and a couple of times we shared a kiss. It never went further than that, but this had a profound impact on us both and those close to us. It was a dreadful mistake and stopped as suddenly as it had started.”

Talking about the impact on his wife he said: “I know that this caused problems for her, as it did for me. And having to explain to Joanne what had happened was one of the most difficult conversations of my life. I’ll never truly understand how she found it in her heart to forgive me, but I tell myself every day how lucky I am to be with such an amazing person.”

What is his net worth?

According to All Famous Birthday, Williamson’s net worth is an estimated £1.3 million.

Why did he resign?

Williamson resigned from his position on Tuesday 8 November after being accused of abusive behaviour towards MPs and civil servants in alleged text messages.

The messages, which were sent when he was a back bencher, were allegedly sent to the then Tory Chief Whip, complaining he had not been invited to the Queen’s funeral.

Other allegations have since come out, with further claims of bullying whilst he was the Minister of Defence and Chief Whip. In his resignation letter, Williamson vowed to “clear my name of any wrongdoing”, calling the allegations a “distraction”.

Sharing on Twitter the former minister also confirmed he would not be taking any severance pay, tweeting: “To dispel any speculation, I want to make it clear that I will not be taking any severance. This is taxpayers’ money and it should go instead toward the Government‘s priorities like reducing the NHS’s waiting lists.”