UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, the front runner to succeed Boris Johnson, has previously told how he foiled an IRA bombing as a young soldier.
The Conservative MP served twice in Northern Ireland with the Scots Guards and said when he was 21 and stationed there he found a bomb in a candy jar.
Wallace said that sun on Sunday in 2020: “I just remember thinking, ‘Well, it didn’t go off and I’m not dead, so…'”
The 52-year-old MP for Wyre and Preston North said he was on patrol in West Belfast when his colleague saw someone “moving suspiciously”.
The person put something under a piece of wood and Wallace explained he went to investigate.
“I remember looking down and seeing one of those big glass jars you find in old-fashioned candy stores,” he said.
“It was filled with Semtex plastic explosive and ball bearings with wires coming out of it.
“The brown label on the jar said ‘milk chocolate raisins’ – but the contents inside were primed and ready to kill. The cop next to me yelled, ‘It’s really real,’ and the gang collapsed.”
Wallace, who today refused to be dragged into a leadership debate with British media, is among the frontrunners among Conservative Party voters to replace the battle-weary Johnson.
The politician was visiting a training center for Ukrainian troops in northern England earlier today as he vowed Britain would continue to support the war-torn country.
London-born Wallace, who rose to the rank of captain and served in the British Army from 1991 to 1998, has said in the past that the British armed forces “are often concerned with defending people who cannot defend themselves.
“Britain doesn’t like tyrants. It stands up to them. But sometimes that comes at a cost,” he said.
In 2019, Wallace said there would be no amnesty for those convicted of taking part in terrorist activities in Northern Ireland during the riots.
He stated that anyone convicted of terrorism should be “in the dock” for their crimes, which is contrary to current legislation currently being enforced by the Westminster Government, which restricts the victims and their families, both nationalists and trade unionists, annoyed.
But Wallace, who served as Minister of State for Northern Ireland under David Cameron for just over a year, called for a reconciliation process in the wake of the riots that could allow those who confess to crimes to avoid being prosecuted. Although he would not commit to a full pardon.
This was the first time a British Foreign Secretary had raised the possibility of reconciliation with Northern Ireland.
Wallace said that Daily Mail then: “I do not support amnesty for terrorists. I do not support amnesty for people who went out and killed many of these young men and women who went out to defend us. Not me [think] this is a solution.
“What I think is that there is a place of reconciliation, but how do we (do) we get there … we have to make sure we don’t unhook the killers who are still out there and need to be hunted down for the killings convicted in which they were involved,” he said.
Today, Wallace told British media he felt the current turmoil in British politics will not affect British support for Ukraine as the country continues to fight Russian aggression.
He claimed to have won cross-party support on the issue from the Scottish National Party (SNP), the Labor Party and the Liberal Democrats.
Mr Johnson intends to remain in office until his successor is elected, a process that could take months and is drawing a backlash from party figures and political opponents over his attempt to “hang on” at No.10 until the autumn.
But with his departure sparking a contest to replace him, attention has turned to potential successors.
Mr Wallace is the clear favorite to replace Mr Johnson among Tory party members, according to a new YouGov poll.
The defense secretary, who has yet to announce a leadership bid, has won admirers in Westminster for his no-nonsense and no-nonsense approach, particularly among Conservative MPs who welcomed his push for increased UK defense spending.
Hot on the heels of YouGov’s popularity ranking is Penny Mordaunt, who made waves in 2019 as Britain’s first female defense secretary before being sacked by Mr Johnson shortly after he became Prime Minister.
The Trade Secretary, who supports Brexit, is said to have a campaign team in action.
Other big beasts who have yet to announce their candidacy include Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid, whose resignations from Cabinet on Tuesday sparked the mass exodus that ultimately crippled Mr Johnson’s leadership.
Mr. Sunak, ranked third in the YouGov poll, was seen as the front-runner before his stock plummeted following the revelation that his wife had non-dom status for tax reasons.
It is understood Mr Javid, the former Health Secretary, is seriously considering running, as is Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
Mr Shapps, who was key to the Prime Minister’s fight for survival during the partygate, was among the Cabinet ministers who called on Mr Johnson to resign on Wednesday.
Some Tories have already made their ambitions clear. Attorney General Suella Braverman launched an unlikely leadership bid as support for Mr Johnson collapsed around him on Wednesday night.
Previously a loyalist to the outgoing Prime Minister, she told Peston on ITV that he had been handling things “appallingly” in recent days and that “the balance is now tipped in favor of saying that the Prime Minister – it pains me to say it – but it’s time to go”.
Ms. Braverman, who was first elected MP in 2015, is seen as something of an outsider for leadership given the party bigwigs already hinted at.
Prominent Brexiteer and former Minister Steve Baker, a senior Tory backbencher, also confirmed on Thursday he is seriously considering putting forward for the top job.
He told Times Radio people would ask him and it would be “disrespectful and disrespectful” if he disregarded statements of support, although he said he viewed the prospect with “something of a fear”.
Secretary of State Liz Truss has made little secret of her leadership ambitions, with a series of high-profile interventions and photo opportunities during which she appeared to channel the late Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
Despite being an ardent Johnson loyalist, she was nowhere to be seen when the government collapsed around him.
She has cut short an official trip to Indonesia and is expected to make a statement soon, sources close to her said.
Although Economy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng is not routinely among those slated to take the prime minister’s place, he may have raised eyebrows with an intervention on Thursday morning, saying the country needs a leader who can “rebuild confidence,” and this person should take command “as soon as practicable”.
Sir Robert Buckland, who has just been appointed as Wales’ new foreign secretary, has declined to rule out a candidacy as Tory leader.
However, Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab has no plans to become the next leader of the Conservative Party, it has been said.
The exact timetable for the leadership contest is agreed by the 1922 Committee and Tory Party headquarters, with Conservative MPs and party members playing a crucial role in choosing the next leader.
Tory MPs will narrow the candidates down to the bottom two through a voting process, with party members then voting on who they would prefer.
In the meantime, Mr Johnson will remain as interim Prime Minister.
However, critics of the outgoing prime minister have suggested he cannot remain in office until the autumn.
Many agree with senior Tory MP Sir Bob Neill’s suggestion that two votes a day should be held to speed up the process and get a result in the summer.
Former Prime Minister Theresa May was asked if she would be willing to serve as caretaker, but said: “I don’t think there will be a caretaker prime minister in the sense of someone else taking on that role.”
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/britain/who-is-ben-wallace-the-frontrunner-to-replace-boris-johnson-as-british-prime-minister-41823082.html Who is Ben Wallace, the front runner to replace Boris Johnson as UK Prime Minister?