- By Chris Mason & Sam Francis
- BBC News
Rishi Sunak has promoted cabinet veteran Grand Shops as defense secretary in a minor reshuffle of his top team.
Mr Shabbs, who was not widely tipped for the role, has held five ministerial posts in the past year.
But he is seen as a safe pair of hands and a skilled communicator.
Rising star and close Sunak ally Claire Coutinho has replaced Mr Shabbs as energy security and net zero secretary.
An MP since 2019, Ms Coutinho, at 38, is the youngest minister to sit at the cabinet table.
He is seen by colleagues as bright and capable – but faces a difficult task in holding together disparate factions of his party over the government’s commitment to net zero.
Ed Miliband, Labour’s shadow climate change secretary, said his appointment “speaks to the failings of Tory policy, and we are now the sixth Secretary of State from 2019”.
“Replacing the pallet chairs will not deliver the right energy policy that Britain needs,” he added.
Some Tory MPs expected Mr Sunak to set out the government’s priorities ahead of next month’s Conservative Party conference and the King’s Speech.
But the prime minister, who will have to replace Ben Wallace, who is leaving politics at the next election, has chosen to play it safe for now.
Some expect a wider overhaul before the next general election, although some Tories fear the prime minister’s time may be running out.
Mr Shabbs paid tribute to Mr Wallace’s “enormous contribution to UK security and global security over the last four years”.
“I look forward to working with the brave men and women of our armed forces who protect our nation’s security,” he added.
Mr Shabbs has held seven Cabinet roles since 2012.
Liz Truss was home secretary for six days last October, following Suella Braverman’s resignation from the role in her final tumultuous week.
When she succeeded Mrs Truss as Prime Minister, she was appointed Business Secretary by Mr Sunak.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Mr Shabbs has played a significant role in UK support for the country.
She took part in the Homes for Ukraine programme, hosting a refugee family in her Hertfordshire home.
Mr Shabbs visited Ukraine last week to highlight the UK government’s role in guaranteeing the supply of enriched uranium to the country’s nuclear power plants in his previous role as energy secretary.
John Healy, Labour’s shadow defense secretary, congratulated Mr Shabbs on his appointment.
He said he would work with his opposite number to “keep our country safe” – but added that “after 13 years of Tory security failures, a change at the top will not change this record”.
Liberal Democrat defense spokesman Richard Ford said Mr Sunak had appointed a “yes man” who would be responsible for “reducing troop numbers to 10,000”.
“They have taken the armed forces for granted for too long and as a result we are all safer,” Mr Ford said.
David Johnston, a Tory backbencher, takes over Ms Coutinho’s role as children’s minister at the Department for Education.
Mr Wallace, who served as defense secretary under three prime ministers, said he was stepping down to “invest in areas of life that I had neglected and explore new opportunities”.
His resignation letter, Mr Wallace said his military and political career had come at a “personal cost to me and my family”.
Mr Wallace left Parliament as one of the government’s longest-serving ministers.