A former Cabinet Secretary right now stated he was “worried” by Boris Johnson’s determination at hand the important thing position in defending nationwide safety to his chief Brexit negotiator, who has no earlier expertise within the subject.
Lord O’Donnell stated the appointment of David Frost as National Security Adviser (NSA) was regarding as a result of he lacked “deep subject knowledge” and he could possibly be a “yes-man” who would fail to advise the Prime Minister objectively.
His issues had been echoed by a former NSA, Lord Ricketts, who stated that Mr Frost’s appointment steered that Mr Johnson’s internal circle was making an attempt to take over influential roles.
Lord West, the previous First Sea Lord who served as safety minister underneath Gordon Brown, advised the Standard he wouldn’t have put Mr Frost “high” on an inventory of candidates.
The concern adopted final night time’s rushed announcement that Sir Mark Sedwill, who controversially held the posts of each Cabinet Secretary and NSA on the similar time, will stand down from September.
Sir Mark is the third top Whitehall mandarin whose departure has been introduced since December’s election, and was linked to a “hard rain” shake-up of Whitehall being deliberate by the PM’s shut adviser Dominic Cummings.
Mr Frost is a former profession diplomat who served as ambassador to Denmark earlier than leaving to turn into head of the Scotch Whisky Association. Brought again to Whitehall by Mr Johnson, he is at the moment main the UK’s commerce negotiations with the European Union.
Lord O’Donnell advised Radio 4’s Today programme: “I’m anxious concerning the appointment of David Frost as National Security Adviser as a result of I’m not fairly certain how placing a particular adviser in that position works, how that’s in step with Michael Gove’s want for deep topic information for somebody who hasn’t actually had a lot of a background in nationwide safety.”
Asked if the service’s impartiality is being eroded, the peer stated: “I feel appointing a particular adviser to a nationwide safety position is sort of clearly an instance of that.
“It’s an issue as a result of political appointees are there and they’re extra more likely to be topic to group-think, extra more likely to be yes-men, extra more likely to say what it’s ministers need to hear as against giving good, goal, talking fact to energy which is what it’s all about.”
Lord Ricketts, a former senior diplomat, stated it “confused” the strains in Whitehall. “This doesn’t sound to me like opening up the Government to new diverse ways of thinking, which is what Michael Gove was talking about. It feels like an even tighter circle of people around the Prime Minister who share his political views.”
Lord West stated: “I’m stunned that somebody was picked for such a vital position who actually hasn’t a lot of a background in both defence or safety.
“He wouldn’t be excessive on my record. I’m certain he is a succesful man, however I’m unsure he has a fantastic depth of understanding.”
Tom Tugendhat, the chair of the Commons Foreign Affairs choose committee stated Mr Frost’s shut relationship with the Prime Minister meant he was higher in a position to advise him. “He is a highly capable individual. My personal belief is that the NSA should be a political appointment because it needs to be someone who can advise and challenge the Prime Minister. You need to be pretty close to the PM to challenge them.”
Sir Mark, 54, essentially the most highly effective official in Government, stated in a letter to Mr Johnson: “We have agreed that I will stand down and leave government service at the end of September.”
Mr Cummings is extensively stated to have had a tough relationship with Sir Mark, who was appointed Cabinet Secretary in 2018 by Theresa May.
Labour chief Sir Keir Starmer stated the Prime Minister shouldn’t be specializing in reshuffles within the midst of the coronavirus disaster.
Speaking on Sky News, Sir Keir stated: “I don’t think that now is the time to start moving around senior civil servants. We’ve got an economic crisis just around the corner.”
Mr Johnson paid tribute to Sir Mark as an “outstanding” servant to the UK.
“Sir Mark has given incredible service to this country. He came in at a very difficult time,” he advised Times Radio.
“He has seen the Government through all sorts of very tough stuff — changes in the premiership, an election, Brexit, dealing with the worst bits of the Covid crisis. He has got a lot more to offer and I am sure he will.”
The Prime Minister performed down options that Sir Mark had been the topic of a collection of damaging briefings within the media. “I attempt to not learn an excessive amount of of the damaging briefing.
“There is an terrible lot of stuff that comes out within the papers to which I wouldn’t robotically connect the utmost credence,” he stated.
“People brief all kinds of things into the newspapers. All I can tell you is Mark is an outstanding servant to this country and will continue to be so.”