The defence secretary has emerged as a frontrunner for the top job. But how has he voted on key issues?
Following the ‘will he, won’t he resign’ political circus, the mainstream media has moved on to fevered speculation about Johnson’s successor.
Jumping to the front of the bookies’ favourite is defence secretary Ben Wallace, following YouGov polling which showed the MP for Wyre and Preston North is the favourite among Tory members to replace Johnson as party leader and prime minister.
While Wallace has declined to say if he will run for Tory Party leadership, we thought it would be a good time to look at the defence secretary’s voting record on key issues.
Against the regulation of fracking
A look on They Work for You, which provides open data on MPs’ votes from the UK parliament, shows that on environmental issues, Wallace generally voted against financial incentives for low carbon emission electricity generation methods. He also consistently voted for selling England’s state-owned forests, and almost always voted for new high speed rail infrastructure.
The leadership favourite also generally voted against measures to prevent climate change and generally voted against regulation of fracking to extract shale gas.
On Home Affairs, Wallace consistently voted for mass surveillance of people’s communications and activities, and generally voted for a stricter asylum system, while almost always voting for a stronger enforcement of immigration rules.
London-born Ben Wallace served in the British Army from 1991 – 1998, where he achieved the rank of captain. The defence secretary has previously spoken of how he thwarted an IRA bomb plot as a young soldier when he was on patrol in west Belfast.
On foreign policy and defence, the Tory MP almost always voted for replacing Trident with a new nuclear weapons system, and has consistently voted for use of UK military forces in combat operations overseas.
On the European Union, while Wallace almost always voted against UK membership of the EU, he was a Remain supporter in the 2016 EU referendum. Since the Brexit vote, he has generally voted against a right to remain for EU nationals and against more EU integration.
Voted for university tuition fees
On education, Wallace has consistently voted for university tuition fees, consistently voted for academy schools, voted for raising England’s undergraduate tuition fee cap to £9,000 a year, and consistently voted for ending financial support for some 16 – 19 year olds in training and further education.
Reduction in spending on welfare benefits
Wallace has almost always voted for a reduction in spending on welfare benefits and against spending public money to create guaranteed jobs for young people who have spent a long time unemployed. He has consistently voted for reducing housing benefit for social tenants deemed to have excess bedrooms – the policy known as ‘bedroom tax.’ The Wyre and Preston North MP has also consistently voted against raising welfare benefits at least in line with prices, and against paying higher benefits over longer periods for those unable to work due to illness of disability.
Other notable votes include consistently voting for the privatisation of Royal Mail, consistently voting against restrictions on fees charged to tenants by letting agents, and almost always voting for restricting the scope of legal aid.
The Tory leadership frontrunner has also generally voted against gay rights, generally voted against laws to promote equality and human rights, and, in typical Tory fashion, voted against higher taxes on banks, banker’s bonuses and higher taxation on the value of expensive homes.
Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward
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