Whitehall shake-up

Frost takes security role as civil service chief Sedwill quits

David Frost with John Swinney

David Frost, left, with John Swinney during his time at the SWA (photo by Terry Murden)

Former Scotch Whisky Association head David Frost is to take up one of the key roles of Sir Mark Sedwill who has stood down as the UK’s most senior civil servant amid claims of a smear campaign.

Sir Mark will leave his post as Cabinet Secretary and head of the civil service in September.

His other role as national security adviser will be taken by chief Brexit adviser, Mr Frost who will combine it with his current job until negotiations with the EU on a trade deal are complete.

Sir Mark, 55, the Cabinet Secretary since 2018 and national security adviser since 2017, told friends was angry about negative briefings over many months, according to The Guardian.

Speculation his job was under threat began to grow on Friday, when the Financial Times reported ministers were briefing he was expected to be gone by the end of 2020. The Sunday Telegraph then claimed he could be out by the end of today.

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His departure will be seen as a victory for Dominic Cummings, Mr Johnson’s most senior aide with whom he is said to have clashed over the functioning of Whitehall.

It comes after the media was briefed in March that Sir Mark had failed to get a grip on the coronavirus crisis.

Dave Penman, the head of the senior civil servants’ union, the FDA, said: “No 10 – or those around it – has sought to undermine Sir Mark and the leadership of the civil service with a series of anonymous briefings against him over many months.

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