'It's not going to happen': Defence Secretary Ben Wallace says he's not going to be the next Nato boss

22 June 2023, 06:21

Wallace, a former Army officer, was among the favourites to succeed Stoltenberg after rallying global support for Ukraine and leading the charge on weapon donations, from Challenger 2 tanks to NLAW shoulder-launched missiles.
Wallace, a former Army officer, was among the favourites to succeed Stoltenberg after rallying global support for Ukraine and leading the charge on weapon donations, from Challenger 2 tanks to NLAW shoulder-launched missiles. Picture: Alamy
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has ruled himself out of the race to become the next boss of Nato.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Rishi Sunak is thought to have lobbied on behalf of his defence secretary during a meeting with Joe Biden in Washington earlier this month.

However, he failed to win the US commander-in-chief over.

"It's not going to happen," Mr Wallace told The Economist magazine during an interview. “Maybe they want a prime minister,” he added.

The top Tory has previously said he would like the role running the organisation but it is believed the United States wants the current secretary general Jens Stoltenberg to stay on.

Mr Stoltenberg is due to step down in September after nine years as secretary general of the military alliance, but the bloc has struggled to decide on a replacement ahead of a mid-July summit in Lithuania.

Joe Biden reportedly asked Mr Stoltenberg to stay on until next spring, when the pair met in the White House earlier this month. It is understood that Mr Biden argued in favour of stability in light of the Ukraine conflict.

However, sources have reportedly told The Sun that Mr Biden would prefer Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to take over the role. Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez was also believed to be a contender.

The Secretary-General role is not chosen through a formal process but the leader was due to be announced at a Nato summit next month. France said it preferred the next leader to come from an EU country but had signalled to allies it would not veto Mr Wallace's bid.

Read more: Tories turn on Bank of England over mortgage crisis as interest rates to be hiked again

Read more: Nato debates ways to boost ties with Ukraine as war grinds on

Stoltenberg says all NATO allies agreed that Ukraine should become a member

Speaking to German media about the top job last month, Mr Wallace said: "I've always said it would be a good job. That's a job I'd like. But I'm also loving the job I do now."

Despite his obvious enthusiasm to succeed Mr Stoltenberg as the next head of Nato, he appears to have failed to get the backing of key allies.

US President Joe Biden described Mr Wallace as "very qualified" for the job when he met Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in Washington recently.

But in private, the US is believed to be one of the nations trying to persuade Mr Stoltenberg to stay - at least for another year. This was echoed by Mr Wallace in comments to The Economist.

In his interview with the Economist, Mr Wallace said whoever takes on the role would need to deal with "a lot of unresolved issues in Nato," including differing demands from US and French leadership.

France believes Nato's secretary general should come from within the European Union.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Wet weather is expected on Sunday and Monday

Fears of travel chaos on Sunday and Monday amid heavy rain, as yellow weather warning issued

Jesse Baird and Luke Davies have not been seen since Monday

Police in desperate riverbed hunt for missing TV presenter and boyfriend, as cop ex-lover accused of murder

Yulia Navalnaya

Navalny widow accuses Putin of mocking Christianity for refusing to return body

Volodymyr Zelensky

Western leaders arrive in Kyiv as Ukraine marks invasion anniversary

Charles has shared a message of support for Ukraine

King Charles hails 'heroism' of Ukrainians as world leaders mark second anniversary of Russian invasion in Kyiv

Junior doctors have gone on strike again

Junior doctors walk out for five-day strike amid long-standing pay row, in latest round of NHS industrial action

Sarah Oliver was killed in the collision

Woman killed by driver who sped through red light while on her phone, as she is jailed for nine years

Spain Building Fire

10th body found in charred remnants of Valencia apartment building

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva

Brazilian president accuses Israel of committing genocide in Gaza

Hamilton Palace is said to be abandoned

Crumbling Sussex mansion abandoned by millionaire developer 'is UK's biggest slum' and is 'magnet for drug abuse'

Grant Shapps has vowed that Britain will back Ukraine 'to the end'

'We will be there to the end': Shapps vows UK will back Ukraine until war is over, as Britain gives £245m military aid

Exclusive
LBC spoke to a mother and daughter from the war-torn city of Mariupol

Ukrainian refugees accuse Home Office of becoming ‘tired of Ukraine’ after altering resettlement schemes

Rishi Sunak has been urged to strip Liz Truss of the Conservative whip

Labour urges Rishi Sunak to strip former PM Liz Truss of Conservative whip after claim of 'deep state sabotage'

Ursula von der Leyen

EC chief von der Leyen arrives in Kyiv as Ukraine marks invasion anniversary

Mel B

'I went from Spice Girls tour to sharing a bed with my kids': Mel B had just £700 in the bank after leaving abusive ex

King Charles

King Charles chuckles at joking get-well card, one of 7,000 he was sent after cancer diagnosis