Ben Wallace is one of the few faces in Rishi Sunak’s cabinet who hasn’t been doing a kind of hokey-poke between his department and the back benches.
The Defence Secretary has significant political pull as a result of his handling of the war in Ukraine and has consistently tried to stay above the internal turmoil of the last few months of Conservative politics.
But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a line. Liz Truss had committed to increasing defence spending to 3 per cent by the end of the decade, upping Boris Johnson’s promise of 2.5 per cent. And when Jeremy Hunt, appointed by Truss as a hail mary to save her premiership, looked like he might waver on the 3 per cent commitment, Wallace threatened to walk.
He stayed in Rishi Sunak’s cabinet, which might mean he managed to reach some kind of compromise from the newly-minted prime minister.
Accounting for inflation, it would mean a spending rise to £100bn in 2029-2030, or a real terms increase of £23bn.