Gavin Williamson. AAP

British Prime Minister, Theresa May, has appointed Gavin Williamson as the new defence minister after his predecessor resigned amidst a sexual harassment scandal.

This had prompted calls for an end to the “locker room” culture in parliament.

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Just hours after Michael Fallon quit saying his behaviour in the past fell “below the high standards we require of the armed forces”, May appointed Williamson, a rising star in her ruling Conservative Party.

Weakened after losing her party’s majority in a June election, May had to move swiftly to plug the hole in her cabinet, at odds on everything from Britain’s departure from the EU to the government’s austerity agenda.

“The Queen has been pleased to approve the appointment of Rt Hon Gavin Williamson as Secretary of State for Defence,” Downing Street said in a statement.

It represents a significant promotion for the 41-year-old, a trusted ally whose former job as chief whip involved enforcing discipline for May’s Conservative party in parliament.

Williamson, elected in 2010, has moved swiftly up the ranks of the Conservatives and was appointed the party’s chief whip – a key role akin to being a team manager to maintain voting discipline – by May when she became prime minister in 2016.

The 41-year-old has had no previous experience of Britain’s armed forces, according to his online profile.