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CHANGE OF GUARD

A lawmaker with no military experience replaces Michael Fallon as UK defense secretary

Lianna Brinded
By Lianna Brinded

Europe News Editor

Britain’s prime minister Theresa May just appointed a lawmaker with no military or diplomatic experience as defense secretary after Sir Michael Fallon’s resignation following sexual-harassment allegations.

Chief Whip Gavin Williamson, a rising star within the Conservative party, is just 41 and only became a member of parliament in 2010. Previously, he had worked in the Staffordshire pottery industry and for an architectural design firm. Now he is in charge of overseeing Royal Air Force strikes abroad and will be leading plans on tackling the Islamic State (ISIL).

He also will be tasked with finding more than £20 billion ($26.2 billion) of efficiency savings. The defense ministry is also under pressure to increase salaries for the armed forces as they struggle with recruiting and retention. On top of that, he will have to navigate through a big review the Cabinet Office is currently carrying out.

Williamson’s appointment comes the day after longtime lawmaker Fallon resigned over allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior. Fallon said his conduct had “fallen short” of the required standards, telling the BBC, “I think we’ve all got to look back now at the past, there are always things you regret, you would have done differently.”

Michael Fallon
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