Ben Wallace has been replaced as Defence Secretary by Grant Shapps


Grant Shapps has committed to "continue the UK's support for Ukraine" as he takes over as defence minister from Ben Wallace.

Mr Shapps has held five cabinet positions in less than a year, including that of energy secretary, transport secretary, and, temporarily, home secretary.

After four years as defence secretary, Ben Wallace is stepping down as an MP in the next election.

Mr Shapps said in a statement that he was "honoured" to take on the post.

Mr Shapps has been replaced as Energy Security and Net Zero Secretary by Children's Minister Claire Coutinho.

David Johnston, a Conservative backbencher, takes over as Education Secretary.

Mr Shapps praised Wallace's "enormous contribution to UK defence and global security over the last four years."

I am looking forward to working with the brave men and women of our Armed Forces who safeguard the security of our nation, the man said.

Mr Shapps is regarded as one of the government's greatest communicators, having served in seven cabinet positions since 2012.

Last October, he served as home secretary for six days during Liz Truss's final turbulent week in office, following the resignation of Suella Braverman.

When Mr Sunak took over from Ms Truss, he nominated him as business secretary.

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Mr Shapps' longest tenure in office was as transport secretary, where he arranged multiple bailouts for Transport for London during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Shapps has taken a visible role in the UK's support for Ukraine since Russia's incursion.

He took part in the Homes for Ukraine programme, hosting a refugee family at his Hertfordshire home.

In his previous post as energy secretary, Mr Shapps visited Ukraine last week to underscore the UK government's responsibility in ensuring a supply of enriched uranium to the country's nuclear power stations.

Defence officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, have expressed mixed feelings about Grant Shapps' appointment.

While some criticise his lack of military experience in comparison to his predecessor Ben Wallace, who served in the Scots Guards, others believe Mr Shapps has significant advantages.

His past experience in the transport department will have given him an understanding of logistics, which is critical in assisting any military action.

This may also assist him in addressing the vexing issue of defence purchases, which has been beset by delays, failures, and overspending.

Mr Wallace, on the other hand, will be remembered fondly by many in the military for his dogged pursuit of more resources.

Ms Coutinho's appointment, according to Ed Miliband, "speaks volumes about the failures of Tory policy that we are now onto the sixth secretary of state since 2019."

"Rearranging the deckchairs will not result in the proper energy policy that Britain requires," he continued.

Meanwhile, John Healey, Labour's shadow defence secretary, congratulated Mr Shapps on his appointment.

He pledged to work with his counterpart "to keep our country safe," but added that "after 13 years of Tory defence failures, a change at the top will not change this record."

Mr Sunak, according to Liberal Democrat defence spokesperson Richard Foord, has put a "yes man" in charge of "slashing troop numbers by 10,000."

Mr Wallace, who served as defence secretary under three prime ministers, announced his retirement to "invest in the parts of life that I have neglected, and to explore new opportunities."

Mr Wallace stated in his resignation letter that his military and political careers had taken a "personal toll on me and my family."

Mr Wallace retires as one of the government's longest-serving ministers.

He oversaw the evacuation of forces from Afghanistan as well as the UK's military involvement to the Ukraine War as Defence Secretary.

He also urged for increased military budget, alleging that the British army had been "hollowed out" over the previous 30 years.

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