Ben Wallace, the Defense Secretary, has announced that he will resign from the Government in the upcoming Cabinet reshuffle and will sit out the upcoming elections.
Wallace said he “won’t run next time” but ruled out leaving Parliament “prematurely” and forcing Rishi Sunak to deal with another by-election.
“I entered politics in the Scottish parliament in 1999,” he told The Sunday Times. “It’s 24 years.”
Mr. Wallace has served as Secretary of Defense since July 2019, and previously served as Minister for Security and Economic Crime since 2016.
Alluding to the security pressures and responsibilities of his ministerial roles since 2016, he said he had “spent more than seven years with three phones by my bedside.”
In the interview, Wallace said that he had informed the prime minister of his intention to resign on June 16 and that he planned to make the announcement during the summer.
However, he said he was forced to publicly confirm his plans shortly after someone in the government informed him that he was considering leaving.
In an apparent warning to Mr Sunak on defense spending, he noted that the Prime Minister had pledged to spend 2.5 per cent of GDP on defense “albeit without a date”.
He said he was most concerned about the security threats posed by Russia and an expansionist China along with the potential “resurgence of Isis or al-Qaeda in Africa.”
“Toward the end of the decade, the world is going to be much more insecure, more insecure,” he said. “I think we will find ourselves in a conflict. Whether it is a cold or a warm conflict, I think we will be in a difficult position.”
On China, he said tensions over the future of Taiwan made the UK “deeply vulnerable”. “Taiwan makes 90 percent of the world’s most powerful chips in literally one factory.”
“What worries us the most is the South China Sea, where China is stealing or establishing sovereignty in areas that other nations would see as their economic zones,” he said.
“You see a dispute between China and Vietnam over fishing grounds, disputes between China and the Philippines over fishing. The Chinese are coming in with these massive flotillas.”
On Russia, he warned that “if [Vladimir] Putin loses in Ukraine, he will be deeply hurt.”
“He still has an air force and he still has a navy, and we see his navy do some pretty aggressive maneuvering. Putin is not done with us yet. There is an ability for him, in the next three or four years, to lash out.”
Wallace said he was proud to negotiate a “£24bn budget increase” for the Ministry of Defense along with “defense reform and investment in army modernisation”.
“I took over a department that had suffered 30 years of cuts and admitted that all of government took care of health and education, while defense was just a discretionary expense. What I hope I’ve managed to do in the last four years is unlock genuine new money and win the argument that defense is critical.”