There have been spectacular resignations of British defence secretaries: Michael Heseltine over the Westland affair in 1986 comes immediately to mind. But there has not been a spectacular sacking of a defence secretary in the modern era – until now, with the firing of Gavin Williamson. The contrast does not end there. Heseltine was a genuinely major figure who quit over his belief in backing British and European defence suppliers. Williamson is a genuine minnow who got himself fired because of his ambition.
‘No government can be successful which cannot keep its secrets,’ the Labour premier Clem Attlee famously said