Wyre and Preston North MP Ben Wallace apologises for handshaking blunder in Downing Street

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace - MP for Wyre and Preston North - has apologised for grabbing another man's hand and shaking it on his way to a socially distanced Government meeting.

By Matthew Calderbank
Tuesday, 1st September 2020, 12:22 pm
Updated Tuesday, 1st September 2020, 12:26 pm

The gaffe happened as the 50-year-old arrived in Downing Street ahead of a cabinet meeting with the Prime Minister this morning (September 1).

The blunder was caught on Sky News cameras as Mr Wallace made his way towards the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, where strict social distancing measures are in force.

The defence secretary was filmed breaching social distancing guidelines as he eagerly reached for another man's hand and shook it vigorously, despite strict Government guidance against handshaking and close contact with others.

Mr Wallace has been quick to acknowledge the 'slip-up' and his office has since issued an apology on his behalf.

A spokesman for Ben Wallace said: "The Secretary of State recognises the mistake and apologises for slipping up. He know the importance of social distancing and will be extra careful in future."

The ill-judged handshake happened just hours before the Government is expected to make an announcement urging the British workforce to begin returning to 'COVID-secure' workplaces.

Ben Wallace has been the Conservative MP for Wyre and Preston North since he was elected in May 2010. He had formerly been MP for Lancaster and Wyre in 2005.

Ben Wallace, defence secretary and MP for Wyre and Preston North, has apologised after he was spotted shaking hands with an associate in Downing Street, London this morning (September 1). Pic credit: Sky News

As secretary of state for defence, Mr Wallace has responsibility for the UK's strategic operations and defence planning, including international partnerships with the US, France, Germany, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, as well as NATO's National Security Council.

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Wyre and Preston North MP Ben Wallace spotted shaking hands at socially-distance...

He also oversees the UK's nuclear deterrent, including its stockpile of 215 nuclear warheads, including 120 active nuclear missiles.

Mr Wallace has been approached for further comment.

The defence sectary Ben Wallace, 50, appeared to disregard the Government's own advice about social distancing this morning (September 1). Pic credit: Sky News
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace made the blunder as he arrived at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London for a Cabinet meeting, ahead of MPs returning to Westminster after the summer recess, this morning (September 1). Pic: PA