Replacing Sir Mark Sedwill as national security adviser with Boris Johnson’s chief negotiator in Europe effectively sets a hard deadline on Brexit trade talks, Downing Street said last night.
David Frost, a career diplomat, will move to his new role by the beginning of September. This means that talks with Brussels over a free trade deal will have to be completed by the end of August at the latest.
If no agreement is reached by then, the UK will leave without a deal when the transition period ends on December 31. The Government hopes the deadline will increase pressure on EU leaders to make concessions which would make it easier to seal a free trade deal.
The Prime Minister’s decision to appoint two successors to Sir Mark – a new national security adviser and a new Cabinet Secretary – is designed to ensure Britain can play a major part on the world stage.
Britain’s chief Brexit negotiator David Frost (pictured) will take over as National Security Advisor from September, Boris Johnson confirmed today
In another break from tradition, Mr Frost’s is a political appointment rather than a civil service one – meaning he is more akin to a special adviser.
Regarded as a close associate of Dominic Cummings, the 55-year-old has no previous national security experience. However, he will now be the principal adviser to the Prime Minister and Cabinet on national security strategy, policy and planning for emergencies.
It is unclear who will step into the Cabinet Secretary position from September, but Simon Case is hotly tipped to be gearing up for a promotion. Mr Case was appointed permanent secretary in No10 amid the coronavirus crisis.
Mr Frost is currently the Prime Minister’s Europe Adviser and the UK’s Chief Negotiator, having previously served as Special Adviser to Mr Johnson when he was Foreign Secretary.
Speaking after news of his appointment today, Mr Frost said he will ‘of course remain Chief Negotiator for the EU talks and these will remain my top single priority until those negotiations have concluded, one way or another.’
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.
Sir Mark Sedwill (pictured), who currently acts as NSA and Cabinet Secretary, announced he will step down from both roles later this year after more than 30 years in Government service
The Prime Minister’s decision to appoint two successors to Sir Mark – a new national security adviser and a new Cabinet Secretary – is designed to ensure Britain can play a major part on the world stage
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.
Speaking of his appointment, he said: ‘I am delighted and honoured to have been appointed the next National Security Adviser. I look forward to helping deliver the Prime Minister’s vision for a global Britain, with real influence around the world.
Mr Frost is currently the Prime Minister’s Europe Adviser and the UK’s Chief Negotiator, having previously served as Special Adviser to Mr Johnson when he was Foreign Secretary
Both Sir Mark (pictured with Johnson, Rishi Sunak, Matt Hancock and Therese Coffey) and Mr Frost are to be awarded life peerages, elevating them to the House of Lords
‘My aim is to support the Prime Minister in setting a new strategic vision for Britain’s place in the world as an independent country after the end of the EU transition period, and in championing that vision as we strengthen our international relationships.
‘To do this effectively we need to strengthen and refocus our international policy apparatus, to ensure that we keep pace with others in the world. The creation of the new Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office is one important step in this.
‘Implementing the Integrated Review of our international capability, and making sure we use the National Security Council to drive its results, are also essential and I look forward to leading both.
‘I will of course remain Chief Negotiator for the EU talks and these will remain my top single priority until those negotiations have concluded, one way or another.’
Announcing the appointment on Sunday, Mr Johnson praised Mr Frost as ‘an experienced diplomat, policy thinker and proven negotiator.’
‘He negotiated the deal that finally enabled us to leave the EU in January and in his new role I am confident he will make an equal difference to this country’s ability to project influence for the better,’ he said.
Pictured: Sir Mark with Prime Minister Boris Johnson inside 10 Downing Street in July last year
‘I have asked David to help me deliver this Government’s vision for Britain’s place in the world and to support me in reinvigorating our national security architecture and ensuring that we deliver for the British people on the international stage.’
Both Sir Mark and Mr Frost are to be awarded life peerages, Downing Street confirmed, elevating them to the House of Lords.
News of his new job follows Angela Merkel’s warning that Britain will have to ‘live with the consequences’ of Mr Johnson’s plan to ditch close economic ties with the EU.
Amid deadlock over whether Britain must comply with the bloc’s state aid rules and environmental, social and labour standards in return for a free trade deal, the German Chancellor said: ‘We need to let go of the idea that it is for us to define what Britain should want. That is for Britain to define – and we, the EU27, will respond appropriately.’
Mr Frost will take over the NSA role from Sir Mark, who was appointed by Theresa May in 2017 and made Cabinet Secretary a year later. He was permitted to keep both jobs despite criticism.