Boris Johnson DITCHES plan to make chief Brexit negotiator Lord Frost the UK’s new National Security Adviser after backlash from critics
- PM said in June 2020 that David Frost would be new National Security Adviser
- Appointment of UK’s chief Brexit negotiator to role prompted a wave of criticism
- Theresa May said Lord Frost was ‘a political appointee with no proven expertise’
- Sir Stephen Lovegrove will be made NSA while Lord Frost is given another role
Boris Johnson has ditched his plan to make Lord Frost the UK’s new National Security Adviser after a furious backlash from critics.
It was announced in June last year that the chief Brexit negotiator would take on the role and it was thought he would start in the coming weeks.
But the Government today unexpectedly announced the peer will instead become Mr Johnson’s Representative for Brexit and International Policy and head a new International Policy Unit in Number 10.
Sir Stephen Lovegrove, who has been Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Defence since April 2016, has been appointed as National Security Adviser instead and is due to start at the end of March.
Lord Frost was due to be the UK’s next National Security Adviser but Boris Johnson today announced he has changed his mind
The PM’s new plan will see Lord Frost made Representative for Brexit and International Policy while Sir Stephen Lovegrove, Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, will be made NSA
Lord Frost had served as the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator since July 2019, having previously served as a special adviser to Boris Johnson when he was Foreign Secretary.
He led the UK team during trade talks with Brussels which came to a successful conclusion in December last year.
With the trade deal now in the books, he had been due to become National Security Adviser in the coming weeks but he will now be sticking with the Brexit brief.
Born in Derby, Mr Frost won a scholarship to Nottingham High School before going on to study French and history at St John’s College, Oxford. He joined the Foreign Office in 1987, with his first posting taking him to the British High Commission in Cyprus.
In 1993 he experienced his first taste of working with the EU when he was posted to Brussels as first secretary for economic and financial affairs. He was then sent to the United Nations.
Between 2006 and 2008 he was Britain’s ambassador to Denmark before becoming the UK’s most senior trade policy official in the business department. He left the diplomatic service in 2013 to head the Scotch Whisky Association – but when Mr Johnson became foreign secretary he returned to government as his special adviser.
He also served as a member of the advisory council of Open Europe, a Eurosceptic think-tank.
When Mr Johnson became Prime Minister, Mr Frost came back on board and duly negotiated the deal which enabled Britain to leave the EU at the end of January last year before then moving onto to trade discussions with the bloc.
In Lord Frost’s new role, which he will start on February 1, he will be tasked with dealing with the UK’s relationship with the EU and to ‘help drive through changes to maximise the opportunities of Brexit’.
The peer had served as Britain’s chief Brexit negotiator since July 2019 and led the UK team in the trade talks with Brussels that reached a successful conclusion in December.
Mr Johnson said: ‘I am hugely grateful to Lord Frost for his herculean efforts in securing a deal with the EU, and I am thrilled that he has agreed to be my representative for Brexit and International Policy as we seize the opportunities from our departure from the EU.
‘I am also delighted to appoint Sir Stephen Lovegrove as my National Security Adviser. Stephen brings with him a wealth of experience from across Whitehall and in National Security and I look forward to working closely together to deliver this Government’s vision for the UK in the world.’
Lord Frost said: ‘I am delighted to take up this new role as the Prime Minister’s Representative on Brexit and International Policy.
‘With a new agreement with the EU in place, we have huge opportunities to boost our wealth and define what we stand for as a country internationally, and I very much look forward to supporting the Prime Minister on this.’
Sir Stephen said: ‘It has been an immense privilege to serve as the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Defence for the past five years. Working with the whole force – our armed forces, both regular and reserve, civil servants, our suppliers and everyone that makes up the Defence community – has been an honour.
‘I am delighted now to be taking up the role of the National Security Adviser.’
The announcement back in June that Lord Frost would take over from the departing Sir Mark Sedwill as National Security Adviser promoted a wave of criticism.
Ex-PM Theresa May led the backlash against the appointment as she slammed Mr Johnson for choosing a close political aide for the role.
Mrs May, who had appointed Sir Mark to the job when she was premier, said Lord Frost was ‘a political appointee with no proven expertise’.
Praising Sir Mark’s professionalism, she asked Michael Gove in the Commons at the time: ‘I served on the National Security Council for nine years – six years as home secretary and three as prime minister. During that time, I listened to the expert independent advice from national security advisers.
Sir Stephen has been in his post at the Ministry of Defence since April 2016. He is due to start as National Security Adviser at the end of March
‘On Saturday (Mr Gove) said, ”we must be able to promote those with proven expertise”.
‘Why then is the new national security adviser a political appointee with no proven expertise in national security?’
Former national security adviser Lord Ricketts had also criticised the appointment, arguing it showed the PM values ‘political loyalty’ higher than ‘expertise and experience’.
In a commentary written for the Royal United Services Institute defence think tank, he said: ‘Those advising ministers on national security do need the mastery of deep knowledge at a time when the Government is formulating a new national strategy in a dangerous world.
‘But the message of Frost’s appointment is that the prime minister accords absolute priority not to expertise and experience, but to political loyalty among his closest advisers. That is not a reassuring conclusion.’
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