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Who is Ben Wallace? The new favourite for prime minister who cut his teeth in the North East

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.

After Boris Johnson announced his resignation, there has been one question on everyone’s lips – who will be the next prime minister?

The odds-on favourite at the moment is Ben Wallace at 3/1, the current defence secretary who started out his political career as a North East MSP in Holyrood.

Mr Wallace has not yet officially said he will put his hat in the ring to become the next prime minister.

But many think his involvement in the UK’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will stand him in good stead.

We take a look at the man who started off in the north-east of Scotland – and could end at No 10.

Life before politics

Mr Wallace, 52, was born in London and attended Millfield private school in Somerset as a child.

After school he worked as a ski instructor in Austria before going to the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace MP at Horse Guards’ Parade in London

He was then commissioned into the Scots Guards in the 1990s and rose to the rank of captain.

During his military career he saw service in Northern Ireland, Germany, Cyprus and Central America, and was mentioned in dispatches in 1992.

Wallace enters Holyrood in 1999

After his stint in the military, Mr Wallace became one of the youngest MSPs in Holyrood when the devolved parliament was first created back in 1999.

He stood for election in the West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine seat, coming second to Lib Dem Mike Rumbles.

But under the list system that was enough to get him through the door to Holyrood, and he became one of the first MSPs for the North East region.

His seat covered Dundee, Angus and Aberdeenshire.

During his time at the Scottish Parliament he was a frontbench spokesman for health under late Scottish Conservative leader David McLetchie.

He left Holyrood in 2003 to pursue his career in Westminster.

Political life in the House of Commons

Mr Wallace was first elected to the House of Commons in 2005 as the MP for Lancaster and Wyre.

And since 2010 he has been the MP for Wyre and Preston North.

His first job in government was parliamentary private secretary to the then Justice Secretary Ken Clarke QC MP.

Ben Wallace MP outside No 10

Since then he has served as Conservative Party whip, Northern Ireland minister and was the UK’s longest-serving security minister.

In 2019 Boris Johnson promoted Mr Wallace to UK defence secretary.

He is now responsible for a number of international partnerships including NATO, the US, France, Germany, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, defence planning and nuclear operations, and sits on the National Security Council.

He currently lives in Lancashire and enjoys rugby, motor sports and horse racing.

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