Allies of the prime minister suggest that her former Defence Secretary, sacked following a leak inquiry, risked dragging Britain into conflict.
- Theresa May sacked her Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson following concerns that he risked dragging Britain into war, according to claims by the prime minister's allies.
- The Sunday Times reports that Williamson risked triggering conflict in the South China Sea with China.
- They also suggest that he sought to involve British troops in multiple African countries.
- "He wanted to invade Africa," one ally tells the paper.
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LONDON — Theresa May's former Defence Secretary, who was sacked this week following a leak inquiry, was dismissed following concerns about his plans to 'invade Africa' and risk war with China.
Allies of the prime minister told the Sunday Times that Williamson, who is accused of leaking details of May's plans to allow Chinese telecoms company Huawei access to Britain's 5G network, risked dragging Britain into war.
The paper reports that May refused his request to send Royal Navy warships into Chinese waters in the South China Sea, leading the then Defence Secretary to scrawl "f*** the prime minister" on the accompanying paperwork, which was subsequently reported to Downing Street.
A leaked National Security Document, seen by the Times, also suggests that Williamson drew up plans for the British Armed Forces to be sent to "at least five African countries, including Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Kenya and Egypt.
The plans were reportedly for peacekeeping initiatives. However, Ministry of Defence officials told the paper that Williamson wanted to "find excuses to send troops".
They added: "He wanted to invade Africa... He made it clear that he was keen to send the troops in."
Williamson strenuously denied the claims on Sunday, telling Sky News that they were "absolutely crazy, on both counts."
"Of course no one has ever suggested it. Classic PM/Sedwill smear because they don't have any evidence."
Theresa May's fitness for office questioned
Allies of the prime minister also briefed the paper that Williamson had privately spread questions about May's personal fitness for office, related to her ongoing diabetes condition.
Williamson was repeatedly heard making the claim, the paper reports.
One of May's allies said: "It's absolutely outrageous that he would attempt to use the prime minister's health condition against her and to suggest it makes her too frail and ill to be the prime minister."
Williamson and his allies deny the Sunday Times' allegations and believe he has been targeted in a "witch hunt".
"It's ironic that an NSC document has been leaked in an attempt to discredit Gavin," one ally of Williamson told the Sunday Times.
On claims that he risked dragging Britain into war, another ally said: "The fact that so many knives are now out for him shows that he ruffled feathers in pursuit of defending the armed forces. The prime minister always found it irritating that Gavin was willing to stand his ground when he thought it was in the best interests of the army, navy and air force. She had never done this for the police when she was home secretary and couldn't work out why Gavin would do it for the military."