​Defence Secretary Ben Wallace to quit Cabinet and stand down as MP

Ben Wallace

Ben Wallace has announced he is standing down as Defence Secretary

Richard Jeffries

By Richard Jeffries

Published: 15/07/2023

- 20:49

Updated: 16/07/2023

- 08:57

Hugely popular Tory was once hotly tipped to be Prime Minister

Ben Wallace will resign at the next Cabinet reshuffle and will not seek re-election as an MP after four years as Defence Secretary.

He will stand down but ruled out leaving “prematurely” and triggering another by-election for the Conservatives to battle.

Mr Wallace, who survived three prime ministers as Defence Secretary, played a key role in the UK’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and was a close ally of Boris Johnson.

His Wyre and Preston North constituency will disappear at the next election after boundary changes and he said he would not seek a new seat.

“I went into politics in the Scottish Parliament in 1999. That’s 24 years. I’ve spent well over seven years with three phones by my bed,” he told the Sunday Times.

Mr Wallace had expressed an interest in standing for the role of Nato secretary-general before it was announced the current chief, Jens Stoltenberg, had been given another year in charge.

At the time the minister said there were a “lot of unresolved issues” in the military alliance admitting “it’s not going to happen,” and he later downplayed the prospect of a future bid to run the organisation.

Last week, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak shut down comments from Mr Wallace in which he suggested Ukraine should show “gratitude” for the military support it has been given.

Ben Wallace Defence Secretary

Ben Wallace has served as Defence Secretary for four years


Mr Wallace had made the remark after the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, branded it “absurd” for Nato to insist there were still conditions for his nation to meet before it can gain membership once the war with Russia is over.

Mr Zelensky later said: “I believe that we were always grateful to United Kingdom.

“I don’t know what he meant and how else we should be grateful.”

Mr Wallace is the longest continuously serving minister in Government, having been security minister under Theresa May before being promoted to Defence Secretary by Mr Johnson.

He was previously appointed as a whip in 2014 and a junior minister in the Northern Ireland Office in 2015 while David Cameron was prime minister.

Ben Wallace Boris Johnson

Mr Wallace was a close ally of former PM Boris Johnson


Mr Wallace, a former Scots Guard who also served in the Police Service of Northern Ireland, is from a military family - his father was a soldier in the 1st King's Dragoon Guards and served in Malaya.

He is hugely popular with grassroots Tories, but ruled himself out of the running for the Conservative leadership last year, despite being an early frontrunner in the race to replace Mr Johnson.

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