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Michael Fallon has left the government [Image: Hayoung Jeon/EPA].

A few months ago, Michael Fallon was considered to be the Conservative Party’s strongest attack dog. Today (November 1), he became a sacrificial lamb.

Sir Michael previously admitted a historical incident of touching Julia Hartley-Brewer on the knee in an attempt to dilute the sex scandal that has called the reputations of at least 37 Conservative MPs into question (the 36 MPs on the so-called “sleaze spreadsheet” plus minority prime minister Theresa May, who knew about all the allegations and did nothing).

But earlier today he submitted his letter of resignation to Mrs May. Here it is:

Here he is saying much the same on television:

The operative part reads: “I accept that in the past I have fallen below the high standards that we require of the Armed Forces that I have the honour to represent. I have reflected on my position and I am therefore resigning as Defence Secretary.”

It is, of course utter rubbish.

Far more likely is Robert Peston’s version:

For those who can’t read images, the relevant part states: “Michael Fallon has resigned as defence secretary because he was aware that his behaviour with women over many years would be regarded as inappropriate if disclosed.

“According to one of his friends, he found the stress of waiting for someone to make a complaint debilitating. And therefore – after a conversation with the prime minister this afternoon – he has quit.”

So he wasn’t pushed – he jumped, in order to avoid further revelations that would damage his reputation more than has happened already. Bear in mind that he is on the spreadsheet as having “odd sexual penchants” and being “a drunk” – as has been discussed previously on This Site and elsewhere.

This Site discussed whether Sir Michael’s confession in The Sun earlier this week was an attempt to dilute and defuse the Tory Sleaze scandal; this resignation could be a further attempt along the same lines, as the furore has not died down.

If so, it will also fail. There are 35 other names on the spreadsheet and all are now in the public domain.

Not only that, but Theresa May was utterly defeated in Prime Minister’s Questions today, when Lisa Nandy raised the fact that she had brought evidence to her that whips had used information about sexual abuse to demand loyalty from MPs – asking her to act no less than three times, in 2014.

And Mrs May did nothing.

The prime minister’s stuttering attempt at an answer says everything: She had been found out, and she could not save herself.

Mr Fallon’s resignation at least provides a distraction – but also a dilemma for the failing prime minister.

Many want her to launch a full Cabinet reshuffle, ridding the government of the liabilities named in the spreadsheet. But the Cabinet’s current membership was balanced carefully, in order to ensure the loyalties of as many Tory Parliamentarians as possible. Even Sir Michael’s departure could fatally alter that balance.

So all she can do is replace him and wait for the next blow to hit her administration.

One more word on Sir Michael himself:

If his behaviour has fallen short of the standards required of the armed forces, then it must certainly fall short of those required of a knight of the realm. When will we see him stripped of his knighthood?

*Apologies for the awful pun. I simply couldn’t resist.

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