Ben Wallace, the UK’s defence minister, announced his resignation to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Thursday, via a letter in which he offered the government his continued support while cautioning him against viewing defence as a “discretionary spend”, Reuters reported.
Ben Wallace, who assisted in directing Britain’s reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, announced last month that he intended to leave the position after four years and that he would resign as a legislator at the following general election in order to seek other options.
The former UK defence minister, a fervent supporter of higher military spending, had intended to succeed Jens Stoltenberg as NATO Secretary General, but the former Norwegian prime minister’s mandate was extended by another year.
Wallace, a 53-year-old British army ex-captain, had lesser ministerial positions in prior administrations until being named defence minister in 2019 by his friend and supporter, former prime minister Boris Johnson.
Some members of the ruling Conservative Party were dismayed by Wallace’s resignation, but the decision was not anticipated to affect London’s backing for Ukraine.
In his official resignation letter, Wallace renewed his appeal for the government not to turn to defence to make spending cuts.
“The Ministry of Defence is back on the path to being once again world-class with world-class people,” he wrote.
“I know you agree with me that we must not return to the days where defence was viewed as a discretionary spend by the government and savings were achieved by hollowing out.”
He posted on X, formerly known as Twitter: “That’s all folks. Been a privilege to serve this great nation.”
Sunak praised Wallace for his work, saying in a letter in response: “You have served our country in three of the most demanding posts in government: defence secretary, security minister and Northern Ireland minister.”
“I fully understand your desire to step down after eight years of exacting ministerial duties.”
Furthermore, Energy Security and Net Zero Secretary Grant Shapps will be replacing Wallace, according to the BBC, taking up his fifth cabinet job in less than a year, including roles as energy secretary, transport secretary and, briefly, home secretary.
Shapps also campaigned to replace Boris Johnson as prime minister in 2022 but dropped out to support Rishi Sunak.