Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has privately indicated that he is interested in taking over Nato's leadership, a defence expert has said.
Former Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg has held the role of Nato Secretary General since 2014 and, according to his spokesperson, will not be seeking an extension when his term comes to an end in September 2023.
Professor Michael Clarke, a Distinguished Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), told the BFBS Sitrep podcast: "I'm sure he (Ben Wallace) will be a very good secretary general."
According to Prof Clarke, Mr Wallace has recently indicated, at least privately, that he is "interested in the job" of Nato Secretary General.
The defence expert also said it would be a perfect time in Mr Wallace's career for him to move onto a global stage.
"It would make perfect sense for him to step out of national politics into an international job," he said.
"Ben Wallace is MP for Wyre and Preston North and, because of boundary changes, he's going to face a real fight there the next election, particularly if there's a swing against the Conservatives," Prof Clarke explained.
Speaking to Times Radio earlier this week, Mr Wallace said the role of Nato Secretary General would be a "great job".
Mr Wallace's comments came as defence secretaries from across Nato met in Brussels to discuss accelerating support for Ukraine.
The Defence Secretary said he loves his current job, despite it being stressful: "I think I've now become the longest-serving Conservative defence secretary, as of a few days ago," he said to Times Radio.
"That obviously takes its toll on your hairline and everything else. But fundamentally, it's a great job."
Regarding the position of Nato secretary general potentially becoming vacant in September, Mr Wallace said: "We'll see what happens."
According to Prof Clarke, there will be a French bid to derail Mr Wallace's candidacy.
Referencing French commentary this week that Britain is a "third-rate military power", the professor said that the comments are designed to diminish the sense that it would be a good move to have a British secretary general.
According to the defence expert, France's forces are just as hollowed out as the British forces, but "on paper" they are bigger and "therefore look a bit more efficient".
"And we're back to the old routine of Britain and France having a ding-dong over whether one of their candidates is the most credible person for a major job in a European context, in this case, Nato secretary general," Professor Clarke added.
The UK is expected to lead the Nato Response Force (NRF) in 2024.
This week Mr Wallace batted away comments from German media that the UK is not ready to lead the alliance next year, calling the claims "just bollocks."
Mr Wallace said the UK will be taking over NRF leadership as scheduled.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast on Wednesday, he added, "the key here is to make sure that our forces are at readiness, and our forces are modernised and, on that subject, I've been very clear that, you know, defence for the last 30 years was hollowed out."
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