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Sun, 27 September 2020

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Theresa May hits out at Boris Johnson for making David Frost national security adviser despite ‘no proven experience’

Theresa May hits out at Boris Johnson for making David Frost national security adviser despite ‘no proven experience’

Theresa May took aim at her successor over the move. (Parliament TV)

2 min read

Former prime minister Theresa May has hit out at Boris Johnson over his decision to appoint David Frost as the new national security adviser.

Mr Johnson's predecessor told the Commons she had worked alongside Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill, the current postholder, for nine years both as Home Secretary and PM and that his work had been "extraordinary".

Sir Mark announced over the weekend his plans to step down as Britain’s top civil servant and national security chief in September, it has been confirmed, as part of a major shake-up of Whitehall.

But Mr Johnson has been criticised for picking David Frost, his top Brexit negotiator as his replacement.

Mrs May, who brought Sir Mark into the post, told the Commons on Tuesday that during her time in 10 Downing Street "I listened to the expert independent advice from national security advisers".

She claimed Mr Frost was "a political appointee with no proven experience in national security".

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove, who was responding to an urgent question on the appointment, paid tribute to the exiting security chief as a "distinguished public servant".

He added: "I should also say that we have had several national security advisers, all of them excellent, not all of them necessarily people who were steeped in the security world.

"David Frost is a distinguished diplomat in his own right and it is entirely appropriate that the prime minister of the day should choose an adviser appropriate to the needs of the hour."

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds, who tabled the urgent question, said the PM's decision to appoint Mr Frost was entirely political. 

"Weak prime ministers take advice only from those who agree with them," he added. "Those who put the national interest first should welcome different views and welcome challenge."

And Joanna Cherry, the SNP's home affairs spokesperson, said Sir Mark's "card was marked last year when he said Brexit would be a disaster".

In his letter to Mr Johnson announcing his intention to stand down, the Cabinet Secretary said: “I am fortunate to have served in some of the most challenging and rewarding jobs in national and international public service under seven prime ministers and in extraordinary times.

"I am grateful for your confidence and friendship as both Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister. I wish you well and, of course, remain at your disposal in the years ahead. It has been a privilege to serve.”

 

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