Grant Shapps replaces Ben Wallace as UK defence minister

LONDON (Reuters) – The British government named ex-energy secretary Grant Shapps as the country’s new defence minister on Thursday, replacing Ben Wallace who said he wanted to step down after four years in the role and would quit as a lawmaker at the next national election.

Wallace, who had been touted as a potential successor to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, had taken a leading role in shaping Britain’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year.

Under him, Britain provided 2.3 billion pounds ($2.9 billion) of military aid to Kyiv in 2022 and became the first country to start supplying Ukraine with long-range cruise missiles in May this year to help end Europe’s biggest land war since World War Two.

Wallace remained in post last year when Britain went through one of the most turbulent times in its political history, with the departure of two prime ministers over scandal and economic turmoil.

The defence role will be Shapps’ fifth government job over the last year, after serving in four different ministries – transport, interior affairs, business and then at energy and net zero. His appointment is unlikely to change Britain’s support for Ukraine against Russia.

($1 = 0.7872 pounds)

(Reporting by Muvija M, Editing by Kylie MacLellan)