LONDON: UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace on Friday ruled himself out of the race to be the next UK Prime Minister, adding that he is “leaning towards” supporting former PM Boris Johnson, reported Sky News.
This will pave way for Johnson’s expected bid to return as Prime Minister after Liz Truss resigned as UK PM on Thursday after weeks of financial turmoil sparked by her mini-budget.
The race to be the next leader of the Conservative Party is under way as three candidates appear to be in the running to get nominated, with Rishi Sunak, Penny Mordaunt and Boris Johnson likely to stand, reported Sky News.
“At the moment, I would lean towards Boris Johnson,” he said, adding Johnson still has “questions to answer” around the partygate investigation that kicks off next month.
“This will be potentially our third prime minister since the general election of 2019, that means we have to think about that legitimacy question that the public will be asking themselves, and also about who could win the next election – that’s obviously important for any political party at the time,” he said.
“So at the moment, I would lean towards Boris Johnson. I think he will still have some questions to answer around, obviously, that investigation, but I know when I was Secretary of State for Defence, he invested in defence, he supported me, he supported the actions this country has taken to keep us safe,” said the Defence Secretary.
Wallace, in a tweet, also reiterated his stand that he will not let his name go forward as a candidate for the UK prime ministership. “As the party starts the process of looking for a new leader, I would like to put on the record that I will not be letting my name go forward as a candidate. I am privileged to be the UK Defence Secretary and the current threat requires stability in that office,” tweeted Wallace.
“The reasons I gave last time for not standing, have not changed. I will be looking to all candidates to recognise that you cannot have economic security at home without national security. This requires real investment for our Armed Forces and intelligence agencies,” he added.
On Thursday, Liz Truss’ resignation as UK Prime Minister threw the country into political turmoil and left it scrambling for a stable government, as the opposition reiterated its demand for a general election.
Truss became the shortest-serving British PM after she stepped down, stating that she recognises she “cannot deliver the mandate” on which she was elected. Truss said she would step aside for a new leader to be chosen within the next week. “
“I recognize though, given the situation, I cannot deliver the mandate on which I was elected by the Conservative Party. I have therefore spoken to His Majesty the King to notify him that I am resigning as leader of the Conservative Party,” she added.
Following Truss’ resignation, Labour Party leader Keir Starmer issued a scathing statement that ripped into the Conservative Party and called for a general election.
“After 12 years of Tory failure, the British people deserve so much better than this revolving door of chaos. We need a general election now,” he said and added that “Each one of these crises was made in Downing Street but paid for by the British public. Each one has left our country weaker and worse off.”
Truss’ exit was preceded by the sacking of UK Finance Minister Kwasi Kwarteng and the resignation of Home Secretary Suella Braverman. Truss remained in power for just 45 days after succeeding Boris Johnson last month. (ANI)