November 2, 2017 / 1:24 PM / in a year

FACTBOX-Gavin Williamson - Britain's new defence minister

LONDON, Nov 2 (Reuters) - Gavin Williamson was appointed as Britain’s new defence minister on Thursday after Michael Fallon resigned over his past conduct as Britain’s parliament was engulfed by a allegations of sexual harassment.

Here are some facts about the 41-year old.

— Williamson was previously ‘Chief Whip’, appointed by Prime Minister Theresa May when she became leader in 2016.

— Chief Whip is a crucial role which involves enforcing party discipline to make sure lawmakers vote in support of the government in parliament. The term ‘whip’ has its origins in hunting, where a ‘whipper-in’ kept hounds from straying away from the pack. It has been used in parliament since the 18th century.

— Williamson owns a pet tarantula call Cronus, which he told the Telegraph newspaper he raised from a spiderling and keeps in parliament.

“I have a very paternal sort of approach. It’s very much the same sort of love and care that I give to my spider as I give to all MPs (Members of Parliament),” he said in November 2016.

— He was first elected in 2010, representing a constituency in central England. From 2013 he served as former prime minister David Cameron’s aide in parliament.

— A BBC profile said Williamson is a fan of the British version of the television series House of Cards, a fictional story about a Conservative chief whip plotting to become prime minister.

— At the Conservative party conference last month Williamson said of his methods in the whip’s office: “We take a carrot and stick approach. Personally I don’t much like the stick, but it is amazing what can be achieved with a sharpened carrot.”

— Giles Kenningham, Cameron’s former head of political press, told the New Statesman magazine in July: “He understands the heartbeat of the party, he has a forensic knowledge of what’s going on, he puts in the work in the tea rooms and the bars. He knows everyone.”

— Williamson has a Bachelor of Science from the University of Bradford and before entering politics he worked as a managing director of an architectural design firm

— Cameron appointed him a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for political and public service. (Reporting By William James and Andrew MacAskill; Editing by Keith Weir)

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