UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace plans to leave the cabinet at the next cabinet reshuffle and will not stand as a candidate in the next general election, he told the Sunday times newspaper.
Wallace informed Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of his plans on June 16 but had hoped to make the announcement later in the summer, the newspaper reported on Saturday. A government reshuffle is expected by September.
« Next time I won’t get up, » Wallace allegedly said. But he ruled out going « prematurely » and forcing another by-election, the paper said.
« I entered politics in the Scottish Parliament in 1999. That’s 24 years old, » Wallace, who has been defense chief since July 2019, told the newspaper.
The development comes days after Wallace controversially said Ukraine should put more emphasis on showing « gratitude » to « dubious politicians » in the US and other allied countries who may not be fully convinced of the need to keep the military and economic support for Kiev as it defends the country against invasion by Russia.
« There’s a little word of caution here which is, whether you like it or not, people want to see gratitude, » Wallace told reporters during a NATO summit in Lithuania on July 12.
Sunak was forced to try to calm the diplomatic turmoil caused by Wallace’s remarks. The prime minister said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had expressed gratitude to Kiev’s allies « countless times ».
Wallace’s name was in the mix of potential candidates to be the next NATO secretary general before the defense alliance agreed in early July to extend Jens Stoltenberg’s term by a year.