Ben Wallace will stand down as Defense Secretary and will not stand as an MP at the next election
After four years as Defense Secretary, he will no longer stand as a Conservative MP
Defense Secretary Ben Wallace has confirmed he will not stand as an MP at the next general election.
After four years as defense secretary, Wallace said in an interview with The Times ‘I’m not standing next time’. His tenure made him the longest-serving Conservative Defense Minister since Winston Churchill, who served from 1940 to 1945.
Wallace added that he will also leave Rishi Sunak’s cabinet in the next reshuffle, which is expected to take place in September. He denied ‘untimely’ resignation and forced by-elections.
His departure followed reports that he was ‘prepared to resign from the government’ after being denied the chance to become NATO secretary general.
He had previously expressed interest in standing for the role but current chief Jens Stoltenberg was given another year in charge despite military coalition officials dismissing the claims earlier in the year.
Ben Wallace has previously expressed interest in running for NATO Secretary General. Current chief Jens Stoltenberg was given another year in charge
Mr Wallace, who played a key role in the response to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and was a close ally of Boris Johnson, is now considering whether to leave politics altogether, according to The Times.
Wallace played a key role in the response to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and was a close ally of Boris Johnson.
He had earlier said that he was in support of Rishi Sunak and the government and that the exit would not be related to the current challenges of the Conservative Party.
In his interview with the Times, he admitted that he had told Sunak of his plans to stand down on June 16 and that he hoped to make an announcement later this summer.
But he said he was advised in the past few days that it would be better to resign now.
Wallace is hugely popular among Tory members and has not previously ruled out a future bid to become party leader – although he twice refused to stand for the leadership last year in the race to replace Boris Johnson and then Liz Truss.
Wallace served as a Conservative Member of the Scottish Parliament from 1999 to 2003. He then entered Westminster in 2005 after being elected MP for Lancaster and Wyre.
He was appointed Defense Secretary on 24 July 2019 after spending three years as Minister of State for Security at the Home Office.
He told The Times: ‘I took over a department that had suffered 30 years of cuts and recognized that the whole of government was about health and education, whereas defense was just discretionary spending.
‘What I hope I’ve been able to do in the last four years is really unlock new meaning and win the argument that defense is key.’
Last week, the prime minister hit back at Mr Wallace’s comments in which he suggested Ukraine should show ‘gratitude’ for the military aid it had provided.
Mr Wallace made the comments after the country’s President Volodymyr Zelensky called it ‘absurd’ for Nato to say his nation still has conditions before it can gain membership if the war with Russia ends.
Mr Zelensky later said: ‘I believe we have always been grateful to the UK.
‘I don’t know what he meant and how we should be grateful.’
Mr Wallace, the longest continuously serving minister in government, was security minister under Theresa May before being promoted to defense secretary by Mr Johnson and continued in the role under her two successors.
The Wyer and Preston North MP was previously appointed as a whip in 2014 and a junior minister in the Northern Ireland Office in 2015 when David Cameron was prime minister.
All 13 of Nato’s previous permanent secretaries-general have been men, putting pressure on the alliance to appoint a female head if Mr Stoltenberg leaves after his nine years in charge.
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