Grant Shapps: ‘ I don

Mini-reshuffle complete as Shapps handed defence and Coutinho confirmed as energy secretary

Grant Shapps has been named the new defence secretary following the resignation of Ben Wallace this morning.

Rishi Sunak appears to have selected Mr Shapps, who was serving in cabinet as energy security and net zero secretary, as Mr Wallace’s replacement because he is deemed in Whitehall to be a safe pick.

Meanwhile, Claire Coutinho, a former education minister, has been confirmed to be replacing Mr Shapps as energy security and net zero secretary.

Ms Coutinho has also served as an adviser in the Treasury during a period when Rishi Sunak held ministerial roles there.

David Johnston, MP for Wantage, is confirmed to be replacing Ms Countinho at the Education Department as the childcare minister.

In his first public statement as defence secretary, Mr Shapps wrote on X (formerly Twitter): “I’m honoured to be appointed as defence secretary by Rishi Sunak.

“I’d like to pay tribute to the enormous contribution Ben Wallace has made to UK defence and global security over the last 4 years.

“As I get to work at [the Ministry of Defence] I am looking forward to working with the brave men and women of our Armed Forces who defend our nation’s security.

“And continuing the UK’s support for Ukraine in their fight against Putin’s barbaric invasion.”

Mr Shapps’ new job as defence secretary will be his fifth Cabinet post in the space of just a year

Mr Shapps played a key role in Rishi Sunak’s leadership campaign last summer and was removed as transport secretary when Liz Truss took office in September 2022.

In October, he succeeded Suella Braverman as home secretary for just six days prior to Ms Braverman’s return to the Cabinet.

Mr Shapps then became business secretary on Mr Sunak becoming prime minister, before his appointment as energy security and net zero secretary in Mr Sunak’s February reshuffle.

Boris Johnson has reacted to Ben Wallace’s formal departure as defence secretary and the appointment of Grant Shapps as his replacement.

The former prime minister wrote: “Sad to see departure of my friend Ben Wallace. A fine defence secretary who got so many calls right – especially on Ukraine.

“Grant Shapps is an excellent choice to succeed him.”

Mr Wallace, who revealed his intention to quit the role back in July, said in his resignation letter: “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.”

Mr Wallace praised Mr Sunak’s backing for the Ministry of Defence and said the department was “back on the path to being once again world class with world class people”.

Mr Sunak said in his written response that Mr Wallace had served the UK “with distinction” and thanked him for his “tireless service”.