Ben Wallace to quit as Defence Secretary and stand down as MP at next election

15 July 2023, 15:42 | Updated: 15 July 2023, 20:01

Ben Wallace failed to win support to become the next Nato Secretary-General as the US preferred to back a different candidate to lead the Alliance
Ben Wallace failed to win support to become the next Nato Secretary-General as the US preferred to back a different candidate to lead the Alliance. Picture: Getty

By Chay Quinn and Adam Solomons

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has confirmed he will leave the House of Commons at the next general election.

The Cabinet minister and member for Wyre and Preston North told The Sunday Times: "I’m not standing next time."

It follows reports he had intended to resign as defence secretary.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is expected to make an autumn reshuffle to refresh his top ministers ahead of next year's general election.

Read more: 'We're not Amazon’: Ben Wallace urges ‘gratitude’ from Ukraine as PM insists war-torn nation ‘incredibly grateful’

Read more: Joe Biden backs Ursula von Der Leyen for next Nato chief after Ben Wallace’s candidacy was blocked

Ben Wallace is pictured wearing military uniform during an interview with LBC
Ben Wallace is pictured wearing military uniform during an interview with LBC. Picture: Alamy

Autumn could prove to be the end of Wallace's long stint at the Ministry of Defence, for which he has won plaudits for his handling of the UK response to the Russia-Ukraine war, The Times reports.

Mr Wallace is the longest continually-serving minister in the Government - having worked under five prime ministers since 2014.

He was widely tipped to enter the first Conservative leadership race last year - but declined to do so despite being the clear favourite to replace Boris Johnson.

Sunak could lose one of his most popular ministers just a year out from an election for which he has a huge polling deficit
Sunak could lose one of his most popular ministers just a year out from an election for which he has a huge polling deficit. Picture: Getty

The Defence Secretary is known for his forthright manner - showcased last week when he said that Ukraine should be more grateful to the UK for the weapons it has provided to the war-torn nation.

Mr Zelenskyy hit back, saying: "I don't clearly understand the questions. We were always grateful to the UK, to the prime ministers and to the minister of defence."

Wallace found himself in an unlikely spat with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy last week
Wallace found himself in an unlikely spat with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy last week. Picture: Getty

Mr Zelenskyy said British people have "always supported" his country's war effort against the Russian invasion, adding that he was "grateful".

He went on: "I didn't know what he [Mr Wallace] meant and how else I should express my words of gratitude."

Joking, Mr Zelenskyy added: "We could get up in the morning and express our words of gratitude personally to the minister."We are grateful to the UK."

Rishi Sunak distances himself from Defence Secretary’s Ukraine comments

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