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Wallace not ruling out future leadership bid and says Nato job would be ‘nice’

The Defence Secretary said he loves his current role but admitted he was not ruling out a future leadership bid.

02 October 2022

Ben Wallace has admitted being head of Nato would be a “nice job” and said he has not ruled out a future bid for the Tory leadership.

The Defence Secretary did not run in the contest which saw Liz Truss elected, instead insisting he was focused on his departmental responsibilities.

But he remains a popular figure within the party, bolstered by his handling of the Ukraine war.

He told a Tory conference fringe event in Birmingham that leading the party and becoming prime minister would have meant “sacrificing everything”.

“You have to really, really want it to be a prime minister. I think you have to really want to sacrifice absolutely everything, and I mean in your private and your personal life,” he said.

“It doesn’t mean to say I wasn’t tempted, I was conflicted between a deep sense of duty I have to the country I love, to try and do the very best for it, but also I knew I was in a job I felt fulfilled in.”

At the event, hosted by the Onward think tank, he added: “So at this time in life, the idea was no.

“I mean, do I rule it out? No, I don’t rule it out. But will I be here in a few years time? I didn’t know either.”

Conservative leadership bid
Liz Truss and Ben Wallace (Ian Forsyth/PA)

Asked whether he would like to succeed Jens Stoltenberg in the Nato role when his term ends in 2023, Mr Wallace said: “I love doing the Defence Secretary job, I genuinely do. I don’t know how long the Prime Minister wants me to do it.

“(Nato) would be a nice job, but I love this.

“I want to hold the Prime Minister to account on her pledges to defence.

“It was very important to me, when it came to the leadership election, that people recognised that defence spending is not a discretionary luxury at the bottom of people’s priorities, it’s for real.

“The world is very much more unsafe, more unstable. We all worry about our prices and our security of our supply chains. That’s not going to happen on its own, we need to invest in security, we have to invest in keeping our people safe.”

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