UK PM Rishi Sunak appoints Grant Shapps as new defence minister in mini reshuffle

Shapps was previously Energy Security and Net Zero Secretary

BRITAIN-POLITICS/ Grant Shapps | Reuters

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Thursday appointed Grant Shapps as his new defence minister in a mini reshuffle following the resignation of Ben Wallace as Defence Secretary for personal reasons.

Shapps, who was Energy Security and Net Zero Secretary in the Cabinet, has been a strong supporter of Sunak as Conservative Party leader.

The new post of Defence Secretary marks his fifth ministerial portfolio within a year, having previously served as Transport Secretary and briefly also as Home Secretary.

"I'm honoured to be appointed as Defence Secretary by Rishi Sunak. I'd like to pay tribute to the enormous contribution Ben Wallace has made to UK defence & global security over the last four years," Shapps, 54, tweeted soon after his meeting with the Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street.

Another Sunak ally and Indian-origin junior minister, Claire Coutinho, is among those in the running to replace Shapps in the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero.

The mini reshuffle was on the cards ever since Wallace had announced his intention to step down from frontline politics a few weeks ago, a move he made official with his resignation letter to Sunak on Thursday.

After much reflection, I have taken the decision to ask that I be allowed to step down. I won my seat in 2005 and after so many years it is time for me to invest in the parts of life that I have neglected, and to explore new opportunities. Thank you for your support and your friendship. You and the government will have my continued support, reads the letter.

Wallace, 53, also praises Sunak for his commitment to defence, saying: The investment you made in defence as chancellor and the continued support you have shown as prime minister has been key to enabling the Ministry of Defence to deliver for Britain. I am personally very grateful for your leadership.

As I finish my tenure, I can reflect that the Ministry of Defence that I leave is now more modern, better funded and more confident than the organisation I took over in 2019.

He says the UK's Ministry of Defence is back on the path to being once again world-class with world-class people and that the country is respected around the world for its Armed Forces, growing more since the war in Ukraine.

I know you agree with me that we must not return to the days when defence was viewed as a discretionary spend by the government and savings were achieved by hollowing out. 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, he added. 

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