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Wed, 25 November 2020

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PM set to remove top civil servant Sir Mark Sedwill amid plans to shake up Whitehall

PM set to remove top civil servant Sir Mark Sedwill amid plans to shake up Whitehall

Sir Mark Sedwill was appointed as Cabinet Secretary and National Security Adviser under Theresa May's government

2 min read

The departure of the UK’s most senior civil servant Sir Mark Sedwill is set to be announced within days as part of a long-expected revamp of the civil service.

According to The Sunday Telegraph, his future could be clarified as early as Monday with both his role as Cabinet Secretary and National Security Adviser under question.

The move will be seen as evidence the PM’s chief aide Dominic Cummings is going ahead with plans to shake up the civil service.

On Saturday, it was reported the controversial senior adviser had recently told a meeting of political aides that a “hard rain is going to fall” while outlining details of Whitehall’s “fundamental” shortcomings shown during the pandemic. 

And The Sunday Times reports that Downing Street is considering an outsider for Sir Mark’s successor, with a source suggesting the PM was considering “someone from the business world”.

Sir Mark’s position first came under scrutiny when Simon Case was appointed to the newly created role of Number 10’s permanent secretary, interpreted as a sign the Cabinet Secretary was being sidelined. 

It is understood if he is removed from his Cabinet Office job, the top civil servant will likely also step back from his National Security Adviser role.

A source told The Sunday Times: “He is a career securocrat and I expect will either step back into the national security role — which I think is unlikely — or step back completely. He’s not at heart an administrator.”

Meanwhile, a separate source told The Sunday Telegraph: “He knows he has lost one half of his job. He is fighting to keep the national security one but they want to take everything off him.”

The PM announced on Saturday night he was kicking off an overhaul of Whitehall, setting up three strategic committees which he will chair to focus on domestic, international and economic priorities.

Government sources told The Telegraph that the new committee structure in Number 10 followed “the successful model that the Government has been using during the coronavirus response, as well as to deliver and implement the British public’s decision to leave the EU”.


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