Defence secretary Ben Wallace says he will stand down at next election

Rishi Sunak responds to Ben Wallace’s Ukraine comments

Ben Wallace, the longest-serving Conservative defense secretary, will be leaving Government in the autumn before stepping down as an MP at the next election. Mr Wallace told The Sunday Times: “I’m not standing next time.” However, he ruled out leaving “prematurely” and forcing a by-election – as the Tories already face three by-elections this week.

Mr Wallace also said he would leave the cabinet at the next reshuffle, which is expected to be held this autumn.

This follows weeks of speculation surrounding Mr Wallace, a close ally of former prime minister Boris Johnson.

It is thought the 53-year-old was particularly stung by a failed UK bid to make him the next head of NATO.

Mr Wallace also occasionally clashed with Rishi Sunak over funding for the armed forces after decades of cuts.

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He served as defence secretary under three different prime ministers and proved remarkably popular among the Conservative grassroots.

He was the frontrunner to succeed Boris Johnson as prime minister last year before he ruled himself out.

During his time as Defence Minister, Mr Wallace has played a high-profile role in the UK’s response to the war in Ukraine.

However, he made the headlines last week during a frank conversation with reporters at the NATO summit in Lithunia.

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He revealed that he had told Ukraine the UK was not an “Amazon” delivery service for weapons and that people “want to see gratitude”.

This prompted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to respond: “I believe that we were always grateful to the UK.”

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Sources inside the Ministry of Defence told Sky News that they were already discussing who may replace Mr Wallace.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, a foreign office minister and former defence minister, Tom Tugendhat, the security minister, and Jeremy Quinn, a cabinet office minister who is also a former defence minister, are among the names being discussed.

Meanwhile, John Glen, chief secretary to the Treasury, was the frontrunner, according to The Times.

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