Sir Michael Fallon resigns as Defence Secretary saying he has ‘fallen below standards of the Armed Forces’. Theresa May pulled the plug on him after he warned there could be further revelations about his conduct with women.
In a resignation statement, the Defence Secretary, 65, said his past behaviour had ‘fallen below the high standards we require of the Armed Forces’.
The move came just 36 hours after it emerged he had repeatedly put his hand on the knee of journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer at a lunch in 2002.
Chief Whip Gavin Williamson is said to have warned the Prime Minister there could be further allegations about Sir Michael, who has been the subject of Westminster gossip for years.
One source claimed Mr Williamson had advised Mrs May to fire the veteran minister, although others insisted Sir Michael had resigned of his own accord following a face-to-face showdown in No 10.
But friends of the MP acknowledged he had been braced for the possibility of more claims about his behaviour.
A source said Sir Michael had been forced to admit to the Prime Minister that ‘there could be more’ – but insisted that no fresh revelations were imminent.
Ms Hartley-Brewer called into Talk Radio tonight to insist ‘this has all got out of hand’ and told Sky News resigning over the incident in 2002 would be the ‘most insane, absurd Cabinet resignation ever’.
Yesterday sources close to him denied the claims in the document, which were described as libellous and untrue. Sir Michael declined to comment on the allegations.
The departure will force Mrs May to conduct an emergency reshuffle today.
Immigration minister Brandon Lewis and security minister Ben Wallace were tipped as possible replacements, though some Conservatives were urging Mrs May to appoint the first female defence secretary.
The Prime Minister is furious about the sex scandal threatening to engulf her government and refused to give Sir Michael her full public backing following revelations about his conduct this week.
She is understood to have made no effort to persuade him to stay when he informed her of his decision to quit yesterday morning.
Sir Michael Fallon last night said it was ‘right’ for him to resign.
Michael Fallon with his wife, Wendy Payne
Ms Julia Hartley Brewer the journalist whose knee was inappropriately touched by Fallon at a lunch 15 years ago.