Gavin Williamson 'lined up for a knighthood' as PM tries to 'buy his silence'

16 January 2022, 17:17 | Updated: 16 January 2022, 17:20

Gavin Williamson has reportedly been lined up for a Knighthood
Gavin Williamson has reportedly been lined up for a Knighthood. Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

Gavin Williamson is being lined up to receive a Knighthood as the Prime Minister fights to keep his position as leader to the Conservative party, it has been reported.

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The former Education Secretary has allegedly been put forward for the prestigious honour in an attempt to to keep him from revealing anything that could further damage Boris Johnson's reputation amid the Partygate scandal.

The MP for South Staffordshire faced backlash over his handling of GCSE and A-Level grade during the pandemic and was sacked from the cabinet last September.

He is know to have played a key part in the PM's leadership campaign in 2019 and the move has suggested that Boris Johnson made the nomination in order to keep skeletons in the closet.

Mr Williamson, who has previously served as Defence Secretary, also came under fire for reportedly holding a lockdown breaking Christmas party.

Read more: PM's wife regrets 'lapse of judgement' after partying with pals during lockdown

Read more: No10 says sorry to the Queen after lockdown-breaking party night before Philip's funeral

The DfE confirmed a social event had happened on December 10 2020, after The Mirror reported Mr Williamson threw a party and delivered a short speech at an event organised at his department's Whitehall headquarters.

A spokesman acknowledged at the time that "it would have been better not to have gathered in this way at that particular time".

Among other silencing attempts, Chris Pincher, a former deputy chief whip, is tipped to take over as chief whip to repair the shattered relations between No 10 and the parliamentary party.

Whilst it has been reported John Whittingdale and Nick Gibb will also be handed knighthoods in the next honours list in a bid to keep them quiet.

It comes as Boris Johnson prepares to cull figures in his inner circle over the partygate affair as he desperately tries to cling on to his job.

"Operation Save Big Dog" as it is apparently referred to, is getting under way – and it will see a blitz of policy announcements the Government will hope can reverse its fortunes.

The plan will work out who should lose their jobs after Sue Gray's investigation into Government staff parties during Covid restrictions is completed.

Read more: Head of Covid taskforce Kate Josephs apologises for 'boozy' leaving party

Read more: Fabricant: Boris Johnson should stay 'for good' despite partygate

It will also emphasise what Mr Johnson has achieved in his time as PM, the Independent said.

Supportive ministers will be lined up to carry out interviews backing Mr Johnson, it is claimed and should come as Plan B is rolled back.

The Prime Minister is hoping to survive the onslaught of public fury at a constant stream of reports about Downing Street parties that took place during Covid restrictions.

It includes fresh accusations that his wife, Carrie Johnson, broke social distancing guidelines after pictures of her emerged hugging a friend at a private members club in West End.

A sixth Conservative MP has joined calls for Mr Johnson to go, with Scottish Tories having already broken rank.

The Sunday Times said Mr Johnson will try to save his job with "populist" policy unveilings in the coming weeks.

That plan has its own name, separate from "Save Big Dog" - it's reportedly dubbed "Operation Red Meat".

They include a plan to reduce the NHS backlog and dealing with migrant small boat crossings over the Channel.

It was also reported that the BBC licence fee could be frozen for two years and a "booze ban" could be put in place for No10.