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Gavin Williamson, a fireplace salesman from Stoke, has told Vladimir Putin to shut up and go away – we can rest easy now

If only Prime Minister Gavin Spencer Williamson had been on hand in 1940 to tell the Germans: 'You want a fight on the beaches? I’ll have a fight on the beaches!'

Tom Peck
Political Sketch Writer
Thursday 15 March 2018 15:31 GMT
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson: 'Frankly, Russia should go away, and should shut up'

Out on to the minefield of international diplomacy storms Private Williamson and boom! An instant explosion.

It was Gavin Williamson’s first major speech since promoting himself to Defence Secretary, and as he took questions from the press at the end, he spoke with the easy air of a school child being summoned to the Headmaster's office to explain why he had wet himself in class.

While he had given his speech, which he read from a piece of paper, taking lengthy pauses before most words of more than two syllables, the Russian government had indicated it would be expelling some British diplomats of its own, in response to Theresa May having done the same.

What was Private Williamson’s view? “Russia should shut up! Russia should go away!” he said, in his very loudest whimper.

This intervention, from one the UK’s most senior politicians, and the head of its armed forces, came not 24 hours after Theresa May was quite right to have accused Russia of treating Britain with “sarcasm” and “complete disdain”.

Though even Putin and his acolytes had not managed anything quite so disdainful as “shut up and go away”. Which must assume too, that like the mutual expelling of diplomats, this action will be met with its own equal and opposite reaction. And that it will only be a matter of time before a formal statement is issued, telling Williamson’s mum to shut up and go away.

Moments earlier, Private Williamson had told his audience, “We have arrived at a profound moment in our history. We have arrived at a crossroads.” Perhaps he’s right, but there is reason for nagging doubt. Profound moments in our history aren’t usually marked by former fireplace salesmen from Stoke telling you you’ve arrived at them.

If we are at crossroads, the problem really is that Williamson is driving, he’s spotted a right turn that says Big Important Role for Gavin Williamson and is handbrake turning into it.

Of course, once you get to the crossroads and turn in the direction of History, it must surely follow that an alternative history appears suddenly in your rear view mirror, one in which it is tempting to imagine Gavin “shut up and go away” Williamson having played a far more important part.

If only Prime Minister Gavin Spencer Williamson had been on hand in 1940 to tell the Germans: “You want a fight on the beaches? I’ll have a fight on the beaches! You want in the streets? I’ll have it in the streets. What’s that? Yeah yeah. Shut up and go away.”

And look, here’s President Williamson, on a battlefield in Gettysburg: “Bloody ’ell. Everyone’s dead. It is time for the living to shut up and go away.”

And there, on the steps of the Williamson Memorial in Williamson DC, it’s Martin Luther Williamson. “I have a dream, where my four little children can do whatever they bloody like and everyone else can just shut up and go away.”

And striding out into the night in Grant Park, Chicago, there comes Gavack Husain Williamsama, responding with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people. "In five simple words, Shut up and go away.”

Already it has been suggested that it’s good that Gavin Williamson sounds like “a normal person”. And perhaps it is. But it’s not that he sounds like a normal person. He is a normal person. He is as normal as they comes. It has always been thus and it always will.

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