Grant Shapps is new UK defense chief after Ben Wallace quits

London, Aug 31 (EFE).- Prime Minister Rishi Sunak nominated Grant Shapps, one of his closest allies, as the new United Kingdom defense minister after Ben Wallace stepped down on Thursday.

“Grant Shapps has been appointed Secretary of State for Defense,” Sunak wrote on the messaging app X, previously called Twitter, after announcing a cabinet reshuffle.

The reshuffle saw Claire Coutinho replace Shapps as Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero.

The prime minister appointed David Johnston as a parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Education.

The defense department will be the fifth ministerial portfolio for Shapps, from the moderate wing of the Conservatives, in the last year, after heading the departments of transport, interior, business, and energy.

Earlier, Wallace wrote a letter to Sunak to inform him of his decision to step down.

“After much reflection, I have taken the decision to ask that I be allowed to step down,” Wallace said in the letter.

Noting that he has been in parliament for 18 years, Wallace said it was time “for me to invest in the parts of life that I have neglected, and to explore new opportunities.”

Wallace said he would not contest the parliamentary elections due in 2024.

Reflecting on his time as defense minister, Wallace said the department he was leaving was “now more modern, better funded, and more confident than the organization I took over in 2019.”

He expressed optimism that the ministry was on the path to becoming “world class.”

“The United Kingdom is respected around the world for our armed forces, and that respect has only grown more since the war in Ukraine,” Wallace said.

Accepting his resignation, Prime Minister Sunak praised Wallace’s “tireless service” to the UK.

“I fully understand your desire to step down after eight years of exacting ministerial duties,” Sunak wrote to Wallace.

“In the most difficult of situations, you have displayed exceptional judgment.”

The defense ministry has always been important in the British cabinet, especially during the present turbulent times of the Ukraine war, with the United Kingdom among the closest allies of Kyiv.

Shapps visited the Ukrainian capital last week to express his support for President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

He hosted a family of Ukrainian refugees in his house for several months.

Analysts say the choice of a well-known media figure like Shapps will reinforce the image of the Sunak government before the general elections next year. EFE


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