Grant Shapps has been appointed Defense Secretary of the United Kingdom, a key ally of Estonia.
Shapps stated on the U.K. government's site that his appointment had come as "a huge honor," and paid tribute to his predecessor, Ben Wallace, over the latter's commitment to Britain's armed forces, as well as to Ukraine.
Defence is in my DNA because Britain gave my family our freedom— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) September 3, 2023
Now as Defence Secretary I'm committed to protecting the freedom of every British family by ensuring our Armed Forces are ready to respond to any threat https://t.co/dWUDknSWeb
Wallace, a former officer in the Scots Guards, had been Britain's Defense Secretary since July 2019, and had forged a close relationship with all of Estonia's defense ministers during that time: Jüri Luik, Kalle Laanet and Hanno Pevkur, and had made three official visits to Estonia.
Current incumbent Hanno Pevkur (Reform) tweeted in support of Wallace's "dedication and friendship."
" It has been an honor to work with You to increase Estonian defense readiness, to help Ukraine, and to build a safer world," the minister added.
What a ride it has been! Thank You @BWallaceMP for Your dedication and friendship. It has been an honour to work with You to increase defence readiness, to help and to build a safer world. You're always welcome in Estonia. Sauna, cold beer and icehole are waiting. pic.twitter.com/hC0Ao2D4QT— Hanno Pevkur (@HPevkur) August 31, 2023
Shapps' appointment, the result of a British cabinet reshuffle on Thursday, comes at a time when work is ongoing to set up a U.K. brigade on high-readiness for deployment to Estonia where needed, as well as a NATO divisional headquarters structure inside Estonia, with British Army officers and other personnel embedded therein
Britain's contribution can also be seen in the naval sphere, via the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) framework and also the NATO maritime standing group framework, to which Estonia contributes also; in the air, the RAF recently concluded a tour at Ämari Base, where it held the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission, not for the first time.
One aspect which did need a bit of clearing up upon Shapps' entry into office was his apparent enthusiasm for the TikTok smartphone app, an app which has raised security concerns, including that personal or sensitive data could be accessed by the government of the People's Republic of China – TikTok is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, though it denies being under the control of the Communist Party of China or by the Chinese government.
A source told the BBC that Defense Secretary Shapps does not in any case have TikTok installed on his personal smartphone, while the app was banned on cabinet ministers' work phones earlier this year.
Other concerns over the app include its content, often aimed at younger people and with a stark contrast portrayed in some media between instructional and educational videos produced for Chinese consumption, and content with perhaps less obvious long-range value as produced via many Western TikTok accounts.
Editor: Andrew Whyte