NEWS
01/05/2019 21:20 BST | Updated 01/05/2019 22:21 BST

Please Enjoy Gavin Williamson's Greatest Moments As Defence Secretary

From threatening China with a single warship to being upbraided by Richard Madeley.

While his tenure at the helm of Britain’s armed forces risks being marred by an alleged breach of national security, many fondly remember the time they’ve had with Gavin Williamson as defence secretary.

In tribute to the boyish minister who was dubbed “Private Pike” after the hapless character in Dad’s Army, here are just five of Williamson’s greatest moments.

1. ‘Shut up and go away’

As UK-Russia relations neared boiling point following the poisoning of ex-Soviet spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia last year, Williamson entered the fray without a shred of diplomacy.

“It is absolutely atrocious and outrageous what Russia did in Salisbury. We have responded to that,” he fumed.

“Frankly, Russia should go away and should shut up.”

As the row over his words exploded, Williamson appeared to double-down on his bluster amid a hectic series of media interviews.

And in a bizarre twist, it was left to Richard “Richard and Judy” Madeley to give the then defence secretary a dressing down.

“It would be helpful if you answered a straight question with a straight answer,” Madeley said as Williamson appeared on Good Morning Britain.

“Do you regret telling Russia to shut up and go away? Mr Williamson, please answer the question.

“You’re not going to answer are you? Alright. Interview terminated. Because you won’t answer the question.”

Watch the exchange, below.

2. Advice from Siri

In what the Daily Mirror newspaper described as an historic first, Williamson’s iPhone sprang to life as he delivered a speech in the House of Commons with its assistant, Siri, offering the chamber sage advice.

As Williamson opined about the so-called Islamic State and the Middle East, Siri could be heard saying: “Hi Gavin, I found something on the web for: In Syria, democratic forces supported by…”

Speaker of the Commons, John Bercow, interrupted the unlikely exchange by announcing that this was “a rum business”.

Williamson replied: “I’m not sure what caused that intervention, but I do apologise for that.

“It is very rare that you’re heckled by your own mobile phone, but on this occasion, it is a new parliamentary convention, without a doubt.”

3. Threatening China with a single warship

Williamson was rebuked by the former head of the army for apparently scuppering UK-China trade talks by threatening to deploy a warship to the Pacific Ocean.

General Sir Lord Dannatt said Williamson made a “bad diplomatic move” by announcing HMS Queen Elizabeth would be sent to an area where Beijing has been involved in a territorial dispute in the South China Sea.

Lord Dannatt added that Williamson “oversold” his idea, pointing out that the aircraft carrier was not yet even ready for deployment.

4. Going full Alan Partridge

Williamson became a fan of Instagram during his time as defence secretary, and it had echoes of North Norfolk’s finest broadcaster.

Gavin Williamson/Instagram
Gavin Williamson/Instagram
Gavin Williamson/Instagram
Gavin Williamson/Instagram
Gavin Williamson/Instagram
Gavin Williamson/Instagram

5. Living hist best life

Showing a keen eye for headline-grabbing imagery, Williamson seemed to engineer a series of shareable photo opportunities with the troops.

MOD
Williamson took part in cold weather training with troops in Norway.
MOD
Williamson necking a shot of whisky after a particularly chilly exercise.
Joe Giddens - PA Images via Getty Images
Williamson climbing into the cockpit of an Apache helicopter at Wattisham Airfield in Suffolk, as they head to the Baltics for a three-month deployment.
PA Wire/PA Images
Williamson seen wearing an oversized helmet on a visit to a training area in Wiltshire.
Steve Parsons - PA Images via Getty Images
Williamson in position as Royal Marines prepare to raid a ship during an exercise last year.