Grant Shapps receives a defense position in a mini-reshuffle. In a minor reorganization of his executive team, Rishi Sunak has elevated Grant Shapps to the work of defense secretary.
Ben Wallace, who is departing politics at the next election, is succeeded by Mr. Shapps, who has held five ministerial positions in the past year.
His appointment was unexpected, but he is regarded as a reliable leader and an effective communicator. Claire Coutinho, a Sunak ally, succeeds him as energy secretary.
Ms. Coutinho, who has only been a member of parliament since 2019, will be the youngest minister at the cabinet table at the age of 38.
Colleagues view her as intelligent and competent, but she confronts a problematic challenge in uniting the diverse factions of her party behind the government’s commitment to net zero.
Ed Miliband, the shadow climate change secretary for Labour, stated that her appointment “speaks volumes about the failures of Tory policy since 2019 marks the sixth secretary of state.”
“Rearranging the deckchairs will not produce the proper energy policy the United Kingdom requires,” he added.
Before next month’s Conservative Party conference and the King’s Speech, outlining the government’s priorities, some Conservative MPs had expected Mr. Sunak to conduct a more extensive reshuffle.
But the prime minister, who had to replace Ben Wallace as defense secretary after announcing his resignation after four years, has decided to play it safe for now.
Some anticipate a more extensive reshuffle before the next general election, but some Tories are concerned that the PM may run out of time.
In his first statement as defense secretary, Mr. Shapps said he was “honored” to assume the position and vowed to “continue the United Kingdom’s support for Ukraine.”
Mr. Shapps praised the “enormous contribution” made by Mr. Wallace to the UK’s defense and global security over the past four years.
“I am looking forward to working with the brave men and women of our Armed Forces who defend our nation’s security,” he added.
Since 2012, Mr. Shapps has held seven cabinet positions.
In October 2012, he served as home secretary for six days during the final tumultuous week of Liz Truss’ premiership following Suella Braverman’s resignation.
He was then designated business secretary by Mr. Sunak, who succeeded Ms. Truss as prime minister.
Mr. Shapps’ longest tenure in government was as transport secretary, during which time he negotiated multiple subsidies for Transport for London during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Mr. Shapps has played a prominent role in the United Kingdom’s support for the country.
He participated in the Homes for Ukraine program by hosting a refugee family in his Hertfordshire residence.
In his previous role as energy secretary, Mr. Shapps visited Ukraine last week to emphasize the UK government’s role in guaranteeing a supply of enriched uranium to the country’s nuclear power plants.
The noun “political appointee.”
Mr. Shapps’s lack of experience in foreign affairs, defense, and security has alarmed some Conservative legislators and military personnel.
An unnamed minister stated that Mr. Sunak had put “media over capabilities.”
They added, “The minister for the Today Programme is the minister for defense.”
Lord Dannatt, former head of the British army, stated, “The critical question is whether Grant Shapps will be a political appointee to support the prime minister in cabinet, or whether he will comprehend the requirements of defense.
“He will have to exert great effort to comprehend his portfolio at the Whitehall level and the operation of the armed forces.”
John Healey, the shadow defense secretary for the Labour Party, congratulated Mr. Shapps on his appointment.
He said he would collaborate with his opponent “to keep our country safe” but added that “after 13 years of Tory defense failures, a change at the top will not alter this record.”
Richard Foord, the Liberal Democrat defense spokesman, stated that Mr. Sunak had appointed a “yes man” who would be responsible for “reducing troop levels by 10,000.”
Mr. Foord stated, “They have taken the military for granted for too long, and as a result, we are all less safe.”
David Johnston, a Tory backbencher, succeeds Ms. Coutinho as the minister for children at the Department of Education.
Mr. Wallace, who served as defense secretary under three prime ministers, stated that he resigned “to invest in neglected aspects of my life and to pursue new opportunities.”
Mr. Wallace stated in his resignation letter that his military and political careers had taken “a personal toll on me and my family.”
Mr. Wallace departs office as one of the longest-serving government ministers.
As secretary of defense, he supervised the evacuation of troops from Afghanistan. After Russia initiated its full-scale invasion in February 2022, he became a prominent and ardent supporter of Ukraine, convincing other nations to respond to President Zelensky’s request for weapons to repel the Russian threat.
He also demanded increased funding for the armed forces, alleging the British army had been “hollowed out” over the past three decades.
The Ukrainian Minister of Defence, Oleksii Reznikov, stated that Mr. Wallace “led by example” and that his work “inspired other countries to assist Ukraine.”
Mr. Reznikov thanked his “friend and colleague” for “everything he has done for Ukraine while in his position” in a statement.