Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has 'lost the plot' over barmy plan to put guns on tractors

DEFENCE Secretary Gavin Williamson has stunned military chiefs with crackpot ideas to solve an equipment crisis — including fitting tractors with guns.

Williamson's department faces a shortfall of £20billion in its budget for new equipment.

A source said: “The man is out of his mind. No one knows what to do.”

As the MoD struggles to deal with a budget black hole, Williamson has been accused of hatching a series of crackpot schemes to solve an equipment crisis.

According to several senior sources they include:

  • MOUNTING “really expensive guns” on tractors and disguising mobile missile defence ­systems as Coca-Cola lorries;
  • BUYING old commercial ferries and transforming them into beach assault craft, and;
  • WASTING thousands of hours of civil service time on plans to launch his own medal

One insider said staff are at their wits' end with Williamson, who insists on keeping a pet tarantula called Cronus in his MoD office.

The source added: “We need billions and serious ideas to tackle serious problems.

“Yet Williamson is mucking about with his spider and coming up with crazy suggestions. The man is out of his mind.

“His behaviour is totally bizarre and no one knows what to do.”

Williamson took over at the MoD in November. The source added: “Everyone had so much hope in him. It all looks so misplaced now.”

Defence chiefs now fear Williamson’s bizarre regime has torpedoed any hope of the MoD getting ­desperately needed extra money out of the Treasury.

It needs £1billion more a year just to keep the armed forces at their present size — and it has to somehow fill a potential £20billion budget deficit in its £179billion ten-year equipment plan.

But sources say ex-furniture salesman Williamson’s failure to grapple with the detail and refusal to heed expert advice is proving disastrous.

It is feared he also scuppered any chance of a financial aid package by briefing against the Treasury and boasting he could “make or break” Theresa May as PM.

Williamson’s idea for armed tractors is said to have come at a summit on the equipment budget.

A source said: “Gavin just came out with it. He said, ‘Can’t we buy tractors and put really expensive guns on them?’ People were open-mouthed. Others didn’t know where to look. It was totally bizarre.”

Williamson has since denied ­making the comment.

He’s gong Pete Tong

THE Defence Secretary has wasted time on plans to launch his own medal, sources claim.

Only the Queen can approve new gongs for gallantry and service to the Crown.

But Mr Williamson has devoted “thousands of man hours” to the UK Defence Medal.

But sources admit the unofficial medal could not be worn with others — making it ­virtually pointless.

And they say it has outraged senior military officials because it demeans the honours and awards systems.

Under the plans, which are at an advanced stage, the Defence Secretary would get five medals to hand out over a year. A senior source said officially the plan is to give it to those Mr Williamson feels deserve recognition, but who do not qualify under the existing awards system.

They added: “The real reason was so he could have something nice and shiny to hand to foreign defence ministers who have been good allies. It was for photo opportunities. He wants to be in the papers every day.”

But insiders say it was just one of a stream of nonsensical suggestions.

He allegedly outlined the disguised missile trucks during a meeting with his Polish counterpart to discuss the renewed Russian threat.

A source said: “The idea was to have an HGV with the livery of the Coca-Cola brand — but inside would be a missile defence system.

“His plan was missiles systems disguised as soft drinks delivery trucks. No one really knows why.

“He literally can’t help himself coming up with this stuff.”

The plan to kit out old ferries came amid a controversial scheme to scrap the Royal Navy’s beach assault craft to save money.

Spider ‘gave aide creeps’

A CIVIL servant needed two weeks off with stress because Mr Williamson refused to leave his pet tarantula at home, insiders have claimed.

Sources said the woman — who works for a defence minister — has acute arachnophobia.

She returned only after assurances the spider named Cronus, left, had gone. But there are claims he sneaks it back in.



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An MoD insider said a plan has been discussed to buy commercial ferries for around £100million each then kit them out with gear for disaster relief or fighting. Many at the MoD now believe Williamson will not be in the job much longer.

Williamson’s spokesman said yesterday: “He is continuing to fight for the funds our armed forces need and he is not afraid to do what is necessary.

“He retains the full support of military chiefs. To suggest he is anything other than diligent is incorrect.”

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