Outgoing British defence minister says ministerial reshuffle will be soon

By Alistair Smout

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s outgoing defence minister Ben Wallace on Tuesday said that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will reshuffle his top ministerial team soon, possibly as soon as this week.

Sunak is widely speculated to be planning a cabinet reshuffle as he struggles to meet his goals of halving inflation this year and getting the economy growing ahead of a national election expected next year.

Wallace said at the weekend that he would leave government when the next reshuffle happens, and step down as a lawmaker at the next election.

“There’s a rumour there’s a reshuffle tomorrow or the day after,” Wallace said at an event in London, adding that he had heard different things on the timing from people in government.

“But it’s going to happen, right? I mean, it’s going to happen either this week or the first week of September. And that’s just the way it is.”

Wallace’s time frame reflected the summer holidays when parliament pauses recess on Thursday and returns in September.

He said that his departure would not impact Britain’s staunch support for Ukraine, adding that he had appointed military chiefs and officials in the defence ministry who would provide continuity.

“Ultimately, the momentum is with Ukraine. It doesn’t need me,” he said.

Wallace said that Sunak was “a bit surprised” but understood the reasons for his departure. He has served as defence secretary since 2019 and security minister before then.

“I’ve done my time. It’s time to move on,” he said.

“I think it’s only fair to the sitting prime minister that he goes into the next election with a Defence Secretary that’s not going to say six weeks before ‘I’m off’.”

(Reporting by Alistair Smout. Editing by Andrew MacAskill)