'Absolutely no experience': Sunak under fire as 'bonkers' Shapps appointment slammed

Grant Shapps

Defence sources have pushed back against the decision, with one insider branding it 'bonkers'

Millie Cooke

By Millie Cooke

Published: 31/08/2023

- 09:14

Updated: 31/08/2023

- 17:17

Sunak loyalist Grant Shapps was appointed Defence Secretary earlier today

The Conservative Party is braced for a civil war after Grant Shapps was appointed Defence Secretary this morning.

While former PM Boris Johnson branded Mr Shapps an "excellent choice" for Defence Secretary, the MP has been torn apart by defence sources within the party, who dubbed him "spreadsheet Shapps".

They said that such a choice will "really antagonise the right of the party", accusing him of having a "not so subtle role in trying to destabilise previous governments (particularly Liz [Truss])."

The insider slammed Mr Shapps for having "absolutely no experience in the role", adding: "Given there is now a war underway right on the border with NATO it would be beyond bonkers to give it to him - I’m not sure he would even know the difference between a tank and a fighter jet!"

Ben Wallace

Ben Wallace penned an emotional letter to Rishi Sunak this morning, in which he said goodbye to his role as Defence Secretary


MPs on the backbenches of the party are said to be furious over the decision, with Mr Sunak being accused of going into "complete bunker mode" by appointing such a staunch loyalist to the role.

Children's Minister Claire Coutinho - another Sunak loyalist - was appointed Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, replacing Grant Shapps.

The combination of Mr Shapps and Ms Coutinho is seen by some inside the party as a way of Mr Sunak shoring up his own defences ahead of a General Election.

A senior backbencher told GB News that the decision shows Downing Street is "nervous of Rishi's position". They described Mr Shapps as being "very very loyal", adding that he "always kisses up", repla

The MP added: "It means Downing St re-takes power over Defence from independent Ben.

"Not a good decision for the MoD but a real indication of how Downing Street is centring more and more control over the Government, frightened of creating alternative power bases. Not a strong decision."

Another insider added: "[Sunak] is clearly just bringing in his absolute allies and shoreing up his defences".

In a damning assessment, they continued: "It’s like we are desperate to absolutely blow up any chances we have at the General Election.

"The backbenches will not be happy at all with all this.

"This is how it all starts to go very wrong. We have seen this time and time again."

The preferred candidates within the Ministry of Defence were said to be Jeremy Quin and James Heappey, both who have experience working in the department. An insider noted: "Ben made a not so subtle comment when he made his last statement to the House that Heappey should be his successor."

Mr Wallace penned an emotional letter to the Prime Minister this morning, in which he said goodbye to his role as Defence Secretary.

Mr Wallace used his letter to praise the UK Ministry of Defence, saying it is "on the path to being once again world class".

He added: "The United Kingdom is respected around the world".The outgoing Defence Secretary described his role in "protecting this great country" as a "privilege" but added: "As you know that responsibility carries with it a 24/7 duty to be available at almost no notice.

"In my time as both Security Minister and at Defence, I have been able to contribute to the Government’s response to a range of threats and incidents."

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