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

18 July 2023, 17:46 | Updated: 18 July 2023, 18:25

Ben Wallace speaking to Global's Jon Sopel
Ben Wallace speaking to Global's Jon Sopel. Picture: Global

By Kit Heren

Rishi Sunak could reshuffle his Cabinet in the next few days, Ben Wallace has said.

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The outgoing defence secretary said he had heard rumours that a Cabinet reshuffle could be imminent.

Mr Wallace, asked at the Future of Britain conference held by the Tony Blair if he was still in charge of defence, said: "Today."

He added: "There is a rumour that there is a reshuffle tomorrow or the day after."

Pushed on the reshuffle suggestion later in a conversation with the News Agents' Jon Sopel, Mr Wallace added: "It depends who you talk to at the top of government.

Ben Wallace speaks to Jon Sopel

I spoke to one very senior member of the civil service who said it is definitely happening this week, I spoke to a very senior member of the government, a minister, who said it is not going to happen this week.

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

Read more: Volodymyr Zelenskyy says he 'doesn't understand Ben Wallace's claim that Ukraine should be more 'grateful' to NATO

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said he had heard rumours of an imminent Cabinet reshuffle

"But it is going to happen, right? Either this week or the first week of September."

It comes after Mr Wallace, the MP for Wyre and Preston North, announced he was standing down as an MP on Sunday.

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

Mr Wallace told Mr Sopel that Rishi Sunak was "a bit surprised" to hear he would be quitting politics, but said the Prime Minister understood his reasons.

The defence secretary suggested he had learned from Tony Blair's exit from Downing Street when announcing his own decision to resign.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace. Picture: Alamy

"There is a man over there that inspires me to go on your own terms," said Mr Wallace, pointing towards Mr Blair.

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.

Read more:

Ben Wallace
Ben Wallace. Picture: Alamy

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.

The country's president Volodymyr 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."

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