Theresa May criticises Boris Johnson for appointing Brexit envoy as National Security Adviser

30 June 2020, 13:50

By Maddie Goodfellow

Theresa May criticised Boris Johnson for appointing Brexit negotiator David Frost as national security adviser, saying he lacks the "independence and expertise" required.

The former Conservative Prime Minister blasted her successor's decision to appoint a political advisor as opposed to a career civil servant, which is the usual choice.

Michael Gove appeared in the Commons to defend Mr Johnson's decision to appoint his key Brexit negotiator to the post.

Mr Frost will replace Sir Mark Sedwill, who is also stepping down as Cabinet Secretary and head of the Civil Service, amid reports of clashes with Mr Johnson's chief adviser, Dominic Cummings.

Ms May said: "I served on the National security council for nine years, six as Home Secretary and three as Prime Minister.

"During that time I listened to the expert, independent advice from national security advisors.

"On Saturday, my Right Honourable friend said we must be able to promote those with proven expertise.

"Why then, is the new national security advisor a political appointee with no proven expertise in national security?"

The former Prime Minister criticised the decision
The former Prime Minister criticised the decision. Picture: Parliament TV
Michael Gove defended the decision
Michael Gove defended the decision. Picture: Parliament TV

Mrs May, who worked closely with Sir Mark questioned Mr Frost's qualifications for the role.

Michael Gove responded by saying that not all national security advisers have been "steeped in the security world".

He told the Commons: "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 advisor appropriate to the needs of the hour."

Theresa May could be seen shaking her head at his response.

It comes as the Prime Minister faces increasing pressure after allegations emerged that he and his key allies forces Sir Mark out of his role as Britain's top civil servant and National Security Advisor.

Former Conservative leader and Foreign Secretary William Hague has already attacked the “politicisation of official appointments".

The former cabinet secretary Lord O'Donnell also warned that political appointees were more likely to be "yes-men" who would not "speak truth to power".

"I'm worried about the appointment of David Frost as national security adviser because I'm not quite sure how putting a special adviser in that role works," he said.

Downing Street has since insisted that Mr Frost had spent 25 years as a diplomat in the Foreign Office before leaving in 2013.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "The appointment of the NSA is always a decision for the Prime Minister."

"It is not unusual in other countries for ambassadors to serve as national security advisers and ambassadors can be political appointees. David Frost has the status of an ambassador.

"The First Civil Service Commissioner has agreed the appointment. That is consistent with the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act."

Downing Street rejected the charge that Sedwill had been forced out of his role.