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Gavin Williamson wins argument that defence may need more money

Gavin Williamson may have secured extra Defence spending. Credit: PA

It was an eventful cabinet.

In response to Boris Johnson's grandstanding to secure £100m a week extra for the NHS, another minister told me "I think no one doubts there is an issue to be addressed..."

Whether that issue is iinadequate funding of health and social care, or the foreign secretary's pathological inability to toe the prime ministerial line and keep schtoom, the minister did not say.

But the Chancellor, from Brussels (where he happens to be), issued what sounded like a megaphone slapdown of the foreign secretary.

That said, it has been decided that there'll be a formal and comprehensive review of all department's spending needs next year. And we can expect Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, to be at the front of the line asking for more.

The big winner today however was the defence secretary - and May ultra-loyalist - Gavin Williamson, who secured agreement that the defence element of the National Security Adviser Mark Sedwill's review of the increased security threats faced by the UK will be separated from Sedwill's assessment into a new independent defence review.

Does Gavin Williamson have eyes on Number 10? Credit: PA

The clear implication of this is that the Ministry of Defence will get special treatment, or more money, to meet its role in combating cyberwarfare, Russian special ops, terrorism and so on - unlike the Home Office or Foreign Office, for example, who've been instructed to do what Sedwill finally instructs them to do out of their existing resources.

Williamson will reveal the detail of his victory tomorrow.

I imagine Amber Rudd and Boris Johnson, among others, will be moaning that Williamson is teacher's pet, and it simply isn't fair.

That said, Williamson is surrounded by both ministers, ex-soldier MPs and generals all belly-aching that our armed forces are in danger of becoming a pale shadow of what the UK needs.

He's desperate to be their conquering hero, because perhaps they'll carry him shoulder high into Number 10, as and when Theresa May concludes she's had more than enough of herding the cats that are her colleagues.

So there we have it: Johnson says "more for health" and the Chancellor says no; Williamson says "let us prove to you PM that defence is chronically underfunded", and May says yes.

In the contest to succeed her, Williamson hasn't had a bad day.