Wyre and Preston North MP Ben Wallace: Rishi Sunak tried to block defence cash, says Defence Secretary

Wyre and Preston North MP Ben Wallace has accused Rishi Sunak of trying to block "vital" defence money during his time as chancellor.

By Nicola Adam
Friday, 29th July 2022, 2:27 pm
Updated Friday, 29th July 2022, 2:38 pm

In a series of interviews on Friday (July 29), the Defence Secretary explained the reasons behind his support for Liz Truss as Tory Leader and Prime Minister, whilst taking thinly-veiled swipes at Mr Sunak's record in the Treasury.

Mr Wallace told Sky News the Foreign Secretary recognises "the threats we face every day" need to be "funded properly", pointing to Ms Truss's commitment to increase defence spending to 3% of GDP by 2030.

He also said that without any prompting or asking, Ms Truss wrote a letter to the Prime Minister saying that defence needs more money.

Defence secretary Ben Wallace (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

In stark contrast, Mr Sunak, the Defence Secretary said, tried to block "vital" defence money in 2019, only to find himself over-ruled by the Prime Minister.

He was asked by LBC's Nick Ferrari how obstructive the former chancellor was in granting more cash to the armed forces.

Mr Wallace replied: "I don't think he was obstructive..."

When pressed further, the Defence Secretary said: "I mean, the multi-year settlement that we got was not what the Treasury had wanted.

"They wanted a one-year settlement. This was back in 2019, I think. It was vital that we got a multi-year settlement.

"The Prime Minister effectively asserted his authority and made sure that's what happened."

Mr Ferrari asked: "But Mr Sunak was not in support?"

Mr Wallace said: "Not that I remember."

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Speaking to BBC Breakfast, the Defence Secretary insisted Mr Sunak would be a "fine member of anybody's Cabinet", but added: "For me, Liz is the one that I think will do best by defence of this nation, by investing in it.

"When I was in Government, without any prompting or asking, Liz, I remember, wrote a letter to the Prime Minister saying that defence needs more money, it's a more dangerous, risky world.

"She did that off her own back. She's been very consistent."

The Defence Secretary was also critical of the way the former chancellor resigned, telling Sky News: "I just don't think triggering Cabinet ministers walking out at a time of a crisis is the right course of action.

"There were other mechanisms to do what they wanted. If Rishi Sunak didn't want the Prime Minister to be Prime Minister, there are other mechanisms to do that. And that goes for all the other ministers."

Mr Wallace's endorsement is seen as a major and further boost for the Foreign Secretary, who has come out ahead in polls and surveys of Tory party members.

Speaking to The Sun on Wednesday, Mr Wallace described the Foreign Secretary as "authentic, honest and experienced" with the "integrity" for the top job.

He also wrote in The Times that Ms Truss is "a winner not because she's a slick salesperson, but because she is authentic".

In an interview with ConservativeHome published on Friday, the Foreign Secretary talked about the need to "look again at the Bank of England's mandate", explaining: "It was set in 1997 in completely different times, and one of the issues round controlling inflation is around monetary policy, and that's not just about interest rates, it's also about quantitative easing that is taking place."