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by Adam Payne
31 August 2023
Grant Shapps replaces Ben Wallace as defence secretary

Grant Shapps appointment is part of a Cabinet mini-reshuffle | Alamy

Grant Shapps replaces Ben Wallace as defence secretary

Grant Shapps has been confirmed as the new defence secretary, replacing Ben Wallace. 

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak appointed Shapps as part of a mini-reshuffle triggered by Wallace's resignation. He is expected to carry out a wider Cabinet reshuffle later this year. 

Shapps, a longtime ally of the Prime Minister, leaves his role as secretary of state for energy security and net zero, which he has held since February. 

Wallace had served as defence secretary for four years but said earlier this summer that he planned to quit Cabinet at the next reshuffle, and not stand at the general election. 

Shapps, the Conservative MP for Welwyn Hatfield, has held numerous ministerial positions since being elected to parliament in 2005, including home secretary and transport secretary. 

He was one of Sunak's most high-profile backers when he ran to be leader of the Conservative party and Prime Minister last summer.  

In Wallace’s resignation letter to Sunak today, he said he had the "privilege of serving you and your predecessors in the task of protecting this great country and keeping its citizens safe". 

In response, Sunak told Wallace had had "served your country with distinction" and praised his role in the UK response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, writing: "You saw, before others did, what Vladimir Putin's true intentions in Ukraine were." 

Wallace was tipped as a potential candidate to replace Johnson as Conservative party leader and prime minister last year but decided against entering the race to succeed him. 

Johnson paid tribute to his "friend" Wallace in a tweet, describing him as a "fine defence secretary who got so many calls right - especially on Ukraine". 

Wallace thanked Sunak for his support for the Ministry of Defence (MOD) both as Prime Minister and chancellor of the exchequor, saying the MOD was now a "more modern, better funded and more confident" organisation than when he became defence secretary four years ago. 

He urged Sunak to continue giving UK defence the financial backing it needs and warned against a "discretionary spend" approach at a time of growing global instability. "I genuinely believe that over the next decade the world will get more insecure and more unstable. We both share the belief that now is the time to invest," Wallace said.  

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