Defence Secretary Ben Wallace slaps down armed forces bosses as he dismisses the suggestion that male soldiers should be allowed to wear makeup
- Leaked rules for UK male soldiers in Canada banned them from wearing makeup
- But female soldiers were allowed to wear makeup as long as it is ‘inconspicuous’
- Uproar prompted Ministry of Defence to launch ‘gender neutral’ review of rules
- But Ben Wallace, Defence Secretary, says only makeup should be camouflage
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace today slapped down armed forces chiefs as he dismissed suggestions that male soldiers should be allowed to wear makeup while on duty.
The Ministry of Defence said it was looking at modernising guidelines about what male personnel can wear after a leaked list of regulations for British soldiers in Canada sparked outcry.
The regulations reportedly banned men from wearing makeup but said female soldiers could wear ‘inconspicuous’ amounts.
However, Mr Wallace today appeared to ridicule the move as he said the only makeup soldiers should be allowed to wear is camouflage.
The Defence Secretary’s comments at Conservative Party conference in Manchester this afternoon seemingly put him on a collision course with the armed forces he is in charge of.
Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary pictured at Conservative Party conference in Manchester today, dismissed suggestions that male soldiers should be allowed to wear makeup
Leaked regulations reportedly handed to British soldiers in Canada said male soldiers could not wear makeup but their female counterparts could
Mr Wallace had been asked while taking part in a question and answer session what could be done to ensure joining the armed forces remained an attractive proposition.
He replied: ‘I thought you were going to ask me the question on men wearing makeup that I noticed in the news today.
‘Apparently the Army is consulting on men being allowed to wear makeup.
‘The answer is men will be allowed to wear makeup in the army as long as it’s camouflage colour.
‘That will be about as far as they are allowed.’
Liz Truss, the International Trade Secretary who was on stage alongside Mr Wallace, then joked as the audience applauded: ‘Given the amount of time you spend in makeup Ben…’
The leaked guidelines said that for males ‘makeup is not to be worn’ while females may wear makeup if it is ‘inconspicuous’.
An Army spokesman said: ‘Queen’s Regulations currently state that while on duty, male soldiers may not wear makeup.
‘However, as an inclusive employer that recognises the diversity of its personnel, we are currently in the process of revising our guidance in this area to make it gender neutral.’
One source described the move as ‘bonkers’.
‘There are people sat in a room talking about whether the Army should allow men and women to wear makeup,’ they said.
Liz Truss, pictured alongside Ben Wallace on stage in Manchester today, appeared to poke fun at the Defence Secretary’s makeup comments
The regulations were reportedly leaked to ‘fill your boots UK’ Facebook group after being handed to soldiers at the British Army Training Unit Suffield (BATUS) in Alberta, Canada.
Mr Wallace also used his appearance at the Conservative Party conference this afternoon to argue in favour of the armed forces being further modernised.
He told Tory activists: ‘In the armed forces, first of all some things don’t change – the sense of adventure, the sense of belonging to something, the sense of contributing to something greater than them as an individual, is, I think, really attractive.
‘But we also have to modernise how people work together. In my day when I was serving very few partners and wives worked.
‘I think when i joined my regiment there were probably two women in the whole regiment and they both worked in the pay office.
‘Now if I go to a regiment… it is a much more mixed work force and people’s life styles are different as well so we have to recognise that.’