Ben Wallace resigns – read his letter of resignation, and the PM’s reply, in full

Ben Wallace has resigned as defence secretary ahead of an expected reshuffle from the prime minister.

Read his resignation letter in full:

Dear prime minister,

Last month marked my fourth year as Secretary of State for Defence. It also marks the ninth year as a minister. I have had the privilege of serving you and your predecessors in the task of protecting this great country and keeping its citizens safe.

As you know that responsibility carries with it a 24/7 duty to be available at almost no notice. In my time as both Security Minister and at Defence, I have been able to contribute to the government’s response to a range of threats and incidents.

From Wannacry, the 2017 terrorist attacks, the Salisbury Poisonings, Afghanistan, Sudan and Ukraine, it has been an honour to serve alongside the men and women of our Armed Forces and intelligence services who sacrifice so much for our security.

The last four years has seen our Armed Forces and their leadership shine through. Whether it was the evacuation of Kabul, our COVID response, Ukraine or Sudan, the professionalism of our people has been first class.

The investment you made in Defence as Chancellor and the continued support you have shown as prime minister has been key to enabling the Ministry of Defence to deliver for Britain. I am personally very grateful for your leadership.

As well as being active around the world we have also invested in prosperity at home. I am proud that I have secured GCAP, AUKUS, NCF, National shipbuilding and the Defence and Security industrial strategies that will secure thousands of British jobs for our young people many years into the future.

The Ministry of Defence is back on the path to being once again world class with world class people. The United Kingdom is respected around the world for our Armed Forces and that respect has only grown more since the war in Ukraine.

I know you agree with me that we must not return to the days where defence was viewed as a discretionary spend by government and savings were achieved by hollowing out. I genuinely believe that over the next decade the world will get more insecure and more unstable. 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. After much reflection, I have taken the decision to ask that I be allowed to step down. I won my seat in 2005 and after so many years it is time for me to invest in the parts of life that I have neglected, and to explore new opportunities.

Thank you for the support and your friendship. You and the government will have my continued support.

The prime minister this morning accepted Mr Wallace’s resignation.

The letter reads:

Dear Ben,

You have served our country with distinction. Your strategic foresight and clarity has been invaluable to our country and the security of our continent. You saw, before others did, what Vladimir Putin’s true intentions in Ukraine were. Your determination to get Kiev weaponry before the Russians attacked had a material effect on the ability of the Ukrainians to thwart the invasion.

I am proud of how this country has led in responding to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

You have played an absolutely vital role in rallying support for Ukraine at home and abroad You have eloquently made the case that this is not simply an attack on a proud and sovereign nation, it is an attack on our values, European security and the open international order on which stability and prosperity have depended for three quarters of a century.

You have been a vigorous advocate for the defence of the realm and you have offered leadership to our armed forces who sacrifice so much to keep our country safe. You have thought long and hard about how to keep our country safe and dedicated yourself to that cause.

I am glad that over the years we have worked together to put the defence budget on a stable footing and ensure that the military will have the resources it needs in the years to come.

As the integrated review refresh make clear we will move away from the baseline commitment of spending at least 2 per cent of GDP on defence to a new aspiration to reach 2.5 per cent.

In the most difficult of situations, you have displayed exceptional judgement. You were instrumental in the evacuation of over 15,000 people from Afghanistan during Operation Pitting. Your anticipation and leadership of one of the largest evacuations of modern times was central to its success. You were also the driving force in the design and implementation of the Afghanistan Relocations and Assistance Policy that has enabled us to bring to the UK those to whom we owe a debt of gratitude.

The UK carrier strike group’s seven month deployment on your watch was a demonstration of this country’s global reach, and the depth of our alliances. Your work on AUKUS will help keep the democratic world safe for decades to come. It is hugely exciting to think that there will be inter-operable submarine fleets patrolling the Atlantic and the Pacific in the years to come, and your role in making this happen has been invaluable.

The dedication and skill with which you have discharged your responsibilities as Secretary of State for Defence has been typical of your belief in public service and deep commitment to the armed forces and security of the UK. You leave the Ministry of Defence and the Armed forces well placed to face the future.

You have served our country in three of the most demanding posts in government: defence secretary, security minister and Northern Ireland minister. In each of those jobs, you have offered tireless service. As security minister, you dealt not only with the 2017 terrorist attack but a chemical weapon attack on our soil. I will always be personally grateful to you for your loyalty and advice since I became Prime Minister.

I fully understand your desire to step down after eight years of exacting ministerial duties. As you say, the jobs you have done have required you to be available on a continuous basis. But I know you have more to offer public life both here and internationally. You leave office with my thanks and respect.

Yours sincerely,