LONDON (AP) – Grant Shapps, one of British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak´s staunchest Cabinet allies, was named U.K. defense secretary on Thursday as Sunak began a Cabinet reshuffle ahead of a general election that is expected to take place next year.
The move came after Ben Wallace formally submitted his resignation earlier in the day, honoring a promise made last month. Wallace was defense secretary for four years, overseeing Britain´s military response to the war in Ukraine.
Shapps, who supported Sunak during his campaign to become Conservative Party leader and prime minister last year, has been a Cabinet member since 2019, most recently serving as secretary of state for the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero.
Wallace used his resignation letter to press for increased funding for the military, long his primary issue.
“I genuinely believe that over the next decade the world will get more insecure and more unstable,´´ Wallace wrote in his letter to Sunak. “We both share the belief that now is the time to invest. Ever since I joined the army, I have dedicated myself to serving my country. That dedication, however, comes at a personal toll to me and my family.”
Shapps is known as a gifted communicator, a key attribute ahead of what is likely to be a bruising campaign.