British Minister of Defense Ben Wallace leaves the weekly cabinet meeting at No.10 Downing St on November 1, 2022. He announced his retirement this week. File Photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI | License Photo
July 16 (UPI) -- Longtime British politician Ben Wallace, who is currently serving as the country's defense secretary, said he will leave government service during the next cabinet reshuffling and will not run for reelection in Parliament.
He made his announcement in an interview with The Sunday Times of London.
Wallace is a close ally of former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who resigned in disgrace over the so-called "Party-gate" scandal during COVID-19 lockdowns. He played a large role in the British response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
The politician has spent last week walking back comments about how Kyiv should show more gratitude for the support it has received from the West, including Britain and the United States.
"Whether we like it or not, people want to see a bit of gratitude," Wallace said at last week's NATO Summit in Lithuania. "I told them that last year, when I drove 11 hours to be given a list, that I'm not like Amazon."
Wallace said on Facebook on Friday he remained steadfastly supportive of Ukraine and felt his comments were taken out of context.
"This was not a comment about governments, but more about citizens and MPs across the international community," Wallace said. "Our approval ratings for support to Ukraine are some of the highest in Europe -- over 70%.
"The comments on 'Amazon' were made last year and were made to highlight that Britain's relationship with Ukraine is not 'transactional' but more a 'partnership.'"
Wallace said he would continue to support Ukraine in its war against Russia and courage others to provide more help in the cause.
The longest continuously serving minister in the British government, Wallace had remained popular among those in the Conservative Party. He had long represented Wyre and Preston North in Parliament and first served as a cabinet minister under former Prime Minister David Cameron.