He was a surprising absentee from the leadership race in July, but the defense secretary, Ben Wallaceis now being touted as a replacement for Liz Truss.
The 52-year-old, a staunch Remainer who is a favorite of many Tory MPs, ruled himself out of this summer’s contest for personal reasons.
“I didn’t want to enough. I think at my stage in life … to want to be prime minister, you have to really, really want it,” he told the Telegraph last month. “You have to want it above all else second, being ruthless on one level. I can be ruthless about certain things. But I have three teenage children, my wife and I had split up, so there is no one coming to live with me in Chequers.
But when asked at the Conservative party conference this month whether he would consider running for leader, he said: “I’m not ruling it out.”
The Farnborough-born father-of-three, who lives in Lancashire with his family, says he enjoys rugby, skiing and horse racing “when time allows” and lists his interests as the NHS, domestic and foreign policy.
Unlike most cabinet ministers, Wallace did not go to university. He left school at 18 and became a ski instructor in Austria before attending Det kgl Military Sandhurst Academy.
He joined the Scots Guards in 1991 and served in Germany, Cyprus, Belize and Northern Ireland. He left in 1998 to pursue a political career and a year later was elected as a member of the Scottish Parliament, serving a single term.
He later moved to Lancashire and was elected MP for Lancaster and Wyre in 2005. In his first speech to the Commons, he said: “Yesterday, as I waited all day to be called, it struck me that a maiden speech is a little like a first bungee jump, jump from a plane or chance to follow a girl home – while you wait you don’t know if you’ll get your chance; while you wait for the chance you’re not sure if you did real.”
Wallace has been the MP for Wyre and Preston North since 2010 and continued to vote in the 2016 EU referendum. He was promoted to Defense Secretary in 2019 and has been praised for his handling of the Ukraine crisis. He was one of the first to make Kyiv’s case with Western allies and pressure the government to support Ukraine.
Wallace was part of Johnson’s inner circle while he was Prime Minister, although he was a staunch Remainer, but towards the end of his premiership he began to put some clear water between himself and Johnson.
And despite being one of the most popular ministers, it seems that not everyone knows who he is. Scotland’s Sunday Mail was one of the papers to report the plan to bring him in, but in an embarrassing blunder, the publication instead published a picture of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Andrew Griffith, on the first edition’s front page.
Wallace responded to the gaffe by tweeting a photo of Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, saying: “Blimey! here’s another pic of me in my old army uniform.”
Labor MP Jess Phillips tweeted: “Previously while having a conversation about the possibility of Ben Wallace taking over we concluded that no one in the country knew who he was. This cover proves the point as this is not Ben Wallace.”