Ben wallace

Ben Wallace: If defence spending pledge goes, so do I

In politics, where there’s death, there’s life. And as Liz Truss’s premiership crumbles before our eyes, all attention in SW1 is which lucky legislator gets to replace her. Second time Sunak? The people’s Penny? Back again Boris? Or perhaps the man who many wanted to run this summer but ended up dropping out: Ben Wallace, the popular Defence Secretary.  The former Scots Guards officer has been a long-standing fixture at the top of the ConservativeHome Cabinet rankings but opted to back Liz Truss in July rather than run himself. Instead, he extracted a pledge from the Trussette to raise defence spending to 3 per cent of GDP by 2030 – a

Asylum base row after Sunak steps in

A curious row has exploded in the projectile-packed leadership race. This morning’s Yorkshire Post splashed on the news that Rishi Sunak (a Yorkshire MP) would oppose Tory plans for 1,500 asylum seekers being housed in a disused RAF base in the region, ahead of tonight’s Darlington hustings. Yet, just hours later, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace revealed he had ‘withdrawn’ the offer and insisted such an incendiary move is no longer happening. Wallace told ITV: I have withdrawn the offer to the Home Office for that site. It’s been with them for a number of months. I have obligations to do something else with that site and you know there are

Ben Wallace backs Liz Truss

It was the endorsement that they were all after. Ben Wallace, the most popular member of Boris Johnson’s cabinet has finally named his preferred candidate to be Britain’s next Prime Minister: Liz Truss. The current Defence Secretary, who has won plaudits for his handling of the Ukraine crisis, has given an interview to the Sun in which he extols Truss’s virtues. Wallace, who has worked closely with Truss to counter Russia’s aggression, told the newspaper that: What you see is what you get with Liz and that is what the public wants more than ever at this moment. She’s authentic. She’s honest. And she’s experienced. I’ve sat next to Liz

My revealing phone call from Ben Wallace

My phone buzzed and rang while I was doing the horses until I thought, fine, I’ll call the Defence Secretary back. I sat down on a picnic chair by the muck heap and dialled. He was extremely courteous. He just wanted to point out that he really didn’t want to be Prime Minister. The profile I had written of him was very good, he said, but the one thing he wanted to put me straight on was, well, the whole premise of the article. He didn’t want the top job, no matter what I had heard. I told him my sources were impeccable. He didn’t need to be so modest.

Ben Wallace’s weird war of words

Just what is up with Ben Wallace? The Defence Secretary is widely thought to have had a ‘good war’ in Ukraine, receiving much praise within parliament and outside it for the way he’s handled Britain’s response. Yet Mr S can’t help but wonder about some of the Lancashire MP’s recent rhetoric. Just this week he publicly claimed that Vladimir Putin is a ‘lunatic’ suffering from ‘small man syndrome’: hardly diplomatic, given Britain’s stated position is explicitly not regime change in Russia. In April of course he also said it would be ‘legitimate under international law’ for Ukraine to hit logistics targets in Russia, even though this would, er, significantly escalate

Ben Wallace lashes out at the Mirror

It looks like Ben Wallace had sugar on his cornflakes today. The Defence Secretary has gone ‘full tonto’ this morning at the Sunday Mirror over a story in today’s newspaper about the amount of cash his department is spending to send the kids of top army officers to leading public schools. The paper says that last year some £1.5 million was handed over by the Ministry of Defence to schools like Eton, Harrow and Ampleforth, as part of the long-standing Continuity of Education Allowance. This covers 10 per cent of boarding school fees for forces parents so spouses can accompany them on overseas postings.  But what really seems to have riled Wallace is

Ben Wallace attacks Westminster drinking

Emerging blearily from his hangover this morning, Steerpike was greeted with the dulcet tones of a Cabinet minister, gravely intoning on Times Radio about the perils of Westminster drinking. Recent revelations about MPs’ behaviour, they suggested, raise more fundamental questions about the culture at the very heart of our democracy and the temptations available to our honourable members. Who was this model of moderation, you ask, this totem of temperance? Why, none other than Ben Wallace, the Forces’ Flashheart, sent out to deliver a sermon to self-restraint on behalf of, er, Boris Johnson’s government. The Defence Secretary – whose work on Ukraine has led to him being tipped as a possible dark horse leadership candidate

‘Britain is not a superpower’: an interview with Ben Wallace

Britain’s evacuation of Kabul began with an admission of defeat. Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, said that the UK would probably leave having failed to assist everyone who had been promised safe passage. ‘Some people won’t get back,’ he said in tears in one interview. When asked why he was taking it personally, he replied: ‘Because I’m a soldier.’ He’s the first defence secretary for 29 years to be able to make such a claim. He served with the Scots Guards in Germany, Cyprus, Belize and Northern Ireland before entering politics. His experience in uniform, he says, has given him different insights into the job: in this case, recognising just

Ben Wallace battles the animal lobby

As George Eustice struggles to kill Geronimo the alpaca, his Cabinet colleague Ben Wallace is facing a different fight with the animal rights lobby. Faced with the calamity of Kabul, the end of Afghanistan and the potential disintegration of the Western alliance, you might have thought the Defence Secretary already has enough on his plate.  But now the former Scots Guard officer has incurred the wrath of over-zealous zoophilists over the Ministry of Defence’s refusal to allow a charted plane to evacuate animals out of the country. The animal lovers in question belong to the Nowzad sanctuary, which rescues donkeys, cats and dogs in Afghanistan. Run by former Royal Marine Paul Farthing – known as ‘Pen’ – the charity

Army argy bargy in Commons clash

Things got a little heated in the House of Commons last night after defence secretary Ben Wallace gave short shrift to fellow Tory MP and ex Royal Anglian Regiment reservist Lieutenant Mark Francois. All hell broke loose after a war of words over the Ministry of Defence (MoD) budget blackhole. Scot’s Guard’s own Captain Wallace pointed out that criticism lobbed from the backbenches about defence procurement would carry a little more weight if the honourable critics had themselves not been former defence ministers overseeing the deficit of which they complained. Lieutenant Francois was particularly aggrieved, demanding corrections to the record and apologies galore. Those Stakhanovite scribes of Hansard have diplomatically recorded

Watch: Defence Secretary shakes hands on first day back

It’s parliament’s first day back, and the government will be hoping to restore an aura of competence, after recent U-turns from exams to face masks – but they have not had a strong start. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace was spotted shaking hands with a colleague this morning, while on his way to a socially distanced cabinet meeting. Heading to the Foreign Office in order to follow social distancing rules – because there is more space than Downing Street for all of the cabinet to sit 2m apart – the Defence Secretary seems to have forgotten his own government’s guidance. And while people often make mistakes, it’s not exactly a good look for

The British state needs rewiring

‘Covid-19 has been perhaps the biggest test of governments worldwide since the 1940s,’ declares the government’s command paper on the virus. The fact that the following paragraph proposes ‘a rapid re-engineering of government’s structures and institutions’ is telling. It is an implicit admission that the British government machine is, in several important areas, failing this test. The argument about whether the UK has the worst death toll in Europe risks descending into statistical absurdity. Until excess mortality figures are known, it won’t be possible to come to a verdict. But it’s hard to argue that the UK has done much better than France, Spain and Italy. We have clearly done