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Theresa May has blasted Boris Johnson for replacing top civil servant Mark Sedwill with an adviser who has “no proven expertise in national security”.
Speaking in the Commons, the former PM made a rare intervention over the controversial appointment of David Frost as national security adviser, saying “expert, independent advice” was vital in government.
The news Sedwill was to resign from his dual role as cabinet secretary and national security adviser sent shockwaves through Westminster on Sunday.
Frost is controversial choice for his replacement. He was originally hired as an aide to the Tory government to help conduct the EU-UK trade talks – a role he will continue to serve in alongside his national security job. Normally, top civil servants are required to be politically neutral.
Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove, who was in the Commons to answer an urgent question on the move, gave a speech on Whitehall reform on Saturday.
It comes amid fears a wider shake-up of the civil service by the PM, spearheaded by Dominic Cummings and Gove, will erode the impartiality of the civil service.
Pressing Gove in the Commons, May praised Sedwill’s “extraordinary public service over many years”, and said: “I served on the National Security Council for nine years, six years as home secretary and three as prime minister.
“During that time, I listened to the expert, independent advice from national security advisers.
“On Saturday, my right honourable friend [Michael Gove] said we must be able to promote those with proven expertise.
“Why then is the new national security adviser a political appointee with no proven expertise in national security?”
Gove also paid tribute to Sedwill and told MPs that Frost will serve as a “special envoy” and that it was “common” for countries to have national security advisers...