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Why has Ben Wallace resigned as Defence Secretary?

 (PA)
(PA)

Ben Wallace, 53, has resigned as the UK’s Defence Secretary ahead of Rishi Sunak’s cabinet reshuffle.

Hours after Wallace stepped down from the role, it was confirmed that former Energy Secretary Grant Shapps would step into the position, marking his fifth cabinet role within a year.

Prior to his resignation, Wallace had served under three prime ministers across four years. He also had an influential role in the UK’s response to the Ukraine invasion.

Wallace joins a number of recent resignations that have occurred among Conservative Party politicians. But why is he resigning and what does his resignation mean for the party?

Why is Ben Wallace resigning?

 (PA)
(PA)

Wallace had previously stated that he would step down at the next cabinet reshuffle. He is also standing down as an MP at the next election.

According to Wallace’s resignation letter, the father-of-three and former military officer is now turning his attention to areas of his life he’d previously neglected.

“After much reflection, I have taken the decision to ask that I be allowed to step down. I won my seat in 2005 and after so many years it is time for me to invest in the parts of life that I have neglected, and to explore new opportunities,” part of his resignation letter reads.

Elsewhere in the letter, he urged his successor and the Government to continue with his commitment to defence spending. He added: “I know you agree with me that we must not return to the days where defence was viewed as a discretionary spend by government and savings were achieved by hollowing out.”

How long has Ben Wallace been in post?

Wallace has been defence secretary for four years, however, he had a long political career prior to this.

Born in Kent, Wallace was previously a British Army officer before he stepped into the political landscape. He became a Conservative Member of the Scottish Parliament in 1999 before being elected as part of the Westminister Parliament in 2005 as the representative for Lancaster and Wyre.

Under Boris Johnson’s government, Wallace replaced Penny Mordaunt as the Secretary of State for Defence in 2019. He remained in the role under the governments of Liz Truss and Sunak until his resignation.

Wallace is considered the longest-serving Conservative politician to serve as defence secretary.

Grant Shapps when he was first appointed (Victoria Jones / PA)
Grant Shapps when he was first appointed (Victoria Jones / PA)

Who has replaced Ben Wallace as Defence Secretary?

Former Energy Secretary Grant Shapps has been announced as Wallace’s replacement. Confirming the news, Shapps tweeted on X: “I’m honoured to be appointed as Defence Secretary by Rishi Sunak.

“I’d like to pay tribute to the enormous contribution Ben Wallace has made to UK defence & global security over the last 4 years.”

A second tweet added: “As I get to work at @DefenceHQ I am looking forward to working with the brave men and women of our Armed Forces who defend our nation’s security. And continuing the UK’s support for Ukraine in their fight against Putin’s barbaric invasion.”