Ben Wallace formally quits as defence secretary as he warns 'the world will get more insecure and more unstable'

31 August 2023, 08:27 | Updated: 31 August 2023, 09:15

Ben Wallace has formally resigned
Ben Wallace has formally resigned. Picture: Alamy

By Jenny Medlicott

Ben Wallace has formally quit as defence secretary as he warned the military must not be viewed as a "discretionary spend" by future governments.

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He was expected to be replaced today.

The MP, who has been in Parliament since 2005 and was once touted as a strong candidate for the Tory leadership, is also set to step down at the next election.

In letters exchanged with Rishi Sunak, he said: "I have taken the decision to ask that I be allowed to step down. I won my seat in 2005 and after so many years it is time for me to invest in the parts of life that I have neglected, and to explore new opportunities."

He added that it had been "an honour to serve alongside the men and women of our armed forces and intelligence services who sacrifice so much for our security”.

It comes after the cabinet minister and member for Wyre and Preston North announced last month he would not be standing at the next general election and intended to resign as defence secretary.

Read more: Cabinet reshuffle 'could be imminent', says departing defence secretary Ben Wallace

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

Ben Wallace formally resigned on Thursday.
Ben Wallace formally resigned on Thursday. Picture: Alamy

Former defence secretary Liam Fox, armed forces minister James Heappey and chief secretary to the treasury John Glen are among those who have been suggested as potential replacements.

Grant Shapps, the energy security secretary, entered Downing Street early on Thursday.

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

He played a key role in the UK’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and was a close ally of Boris Johnson.

In his resignation letter he said that his political career has come at "a personal toll to me and my family".

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

Responding to Wallace's letter, Rishi Sunak praised the former defence secretary for serving "with distinction".

He said: "Your strategic foresight and clarity has been invaluable to our country and the security of our continent.

"I will always be personally grateful to you for your loyalty and advice since I became Prime Minister. I fully understand your desire to step down after eight years of exacting ministerial duties.

"As you say, the jobs you have done have required you to be available on a continuous basis. But I know you have more to offer public life both here and internationally. You leave office with my thanks and respect."

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