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Ben Wallace has announced that he will soon step down as UK Defense Secretary after four years and will not stand in the general election due at the end of next year.
The 53-year-old former captain in the Scots Guards was first elected as MP for Lancaster and Wyre in 2005 and previously spent four years as a member of the Scottish Parliament. He now sits in Parliament for the constituency of Wyre and Preston North.
He became the Defense Minister in 2016 before being promoted as the Defense Secretary in 2019.
He has served as defense secretary under three prime ministers and was previously touted as a future leader of the Conservative Party.
Speculation about Wallace’s intention to leave British politics has raged in Westminster for months, not least after he made clear his ambition to become the next secretary-general of NATO. That mission failed after US President Joe Biden refused to endorse his candidacy.
Just over a week ago, people close to Wallace told the FT he was not considering leaving politics, claiming the speculation was “nonsense”.
However in one An interview with the Sunday Times The MP said he has decided to leave the cabinet at the next reshuffle, which is expected in early September.
Possible successors as defense secretary are likely to include Chief Secretary to the Treasury John Glenn and Security Minister Tom Tugendhat, according to people with knowledge of the situation.
Wallace said the decision was not related to the fact that his constituency’s electoral boundaries were being redrawn.
The opposition Labor Party has a large lead in opinion polls and more than 40 Conservative MPs have announced they will leave Westminster at the next election.
Wallace rejected the idea of taking a job in the defense industry and said he might leave politics and defense altogether.
“I’m very happy to go and work in a bar,” he told the Sunday Times. “I feel very fulfilled, and it gives me so many options. I sometimes feel like I just want to go and do the things I love, like Formula One or horseracing – just do something completely different.”
Wallace is a close ally of former Prime Minister Boris Johnson and He ran an inactive campaign for the party leadership In 2016.
After Johnson resigned last summer, Wallace surprised some colleagues by removing himself from the race to replace him, despite his reputation as popular among the party’s grassroots.
He said his proudest achievement as defense secretary was ending long-term cuts to the Ministry of Defence, unlocking “genuinely new money” and convincing Downing Street that defense was “key”.
He warned that Britain could be in conflict within years. “Toward the end of the decade, the world is going to become more insecure, more insecure. I think we’re going to find ourselves in a conflict. Whether it’s a cold conflict or a hot conflict, I think we’re going to be in a difficult position,” he told the Sunday Times.