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UK politics

Ukraine has shaken up British politics

Ben Wallace: “the Cabinet’s Action Man”. David Cliff/NurPhoto/Getty

The Ukrainian invasion has turned British politics on its head, says Dan Hodges in The Mail on Sunday. For one thing, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace “has emerged as the Cabinet’s Action Man”. He started sending weapons to Ukraine back in January, and because he’s on first-name terms with defence ministers across the West, he’s been able to rapidly mobilise a strong response to the crisis. Now he’s “de facto Deputy Prime Minister” in Boris Johnson’s unofficial “War Cabinet” – something Foreign Secretary Liz Truss doesn’t seem too happy about. Truss is also competing for Johnson’s ear with the Evening Standard’s Russian owner Evgeny Lebedev, who, according to one No 10 insider, WhatsApps the PM “a lot”.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has had his financial plans “flipped upside down”, just as when Covid hit. With Britain’s army smaller than it’s been since 1800, and Labour seeking to “drive defence to the top of the political agenda”, Sunak faces a “fiscal nightmare”. Every penny he spends “shoring up Europe’s vulnerable eastern flank” is a penny he can’t spend on levelling up and tax cuts. As for Johnson himself, the crisis seems to have “galvanised” him and dampened talk of a no confidence vote over Partygate. But critics say he’s not out of the woods yet. “If the Met delivers a fine,” one source tells me, “then he’s still going to face a challenge.”