Lord Frost ‘was rushed’ into lesser known top job during Brexit talks: ‘Highly unusual!’
Denis MacShane: Lord Frost branded 'Boris Johnson's useful idiot'
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The Brexit minister has today been replaced by Foreign Secretary Liz Truss as the UK’s lead negotiator with the EU. Lord Frost told Mr Johnson he was quitting the cabinet last week. In his resignation letter to the Prime Minister, the Brexit negotiator wrote of his “concerns” about the Government’s “current direction of travel”. Lord Frost revealed his disquiet at the Government’s move towards high taxes and warned Mr Johnson against “coercive” measures to tackle COVID-19.
While Lord Frost is known to many for holding Brussels to account during the Brexit negotiations, he was also handed a lesser-known role by Mr Johnson.
The Prime Minister appointed him as his personal National Security Adviser at the end of June 2020.
However, immediately after securing the new role, Lord Frost’s appointment was criticised by Nick Thomas-Symonds.
Labour’s then-Shadow Home Secretary described Mr Johnson’s selection as “rushed” and “highly unusual”.
Mr Thomas-Symonds, who is now Shadow Trade Secretary, was granted an urgent question in the House of Commons the day after Mr Johnson announced Lord Frost’s new role.
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The Labour politician said: “We are in the midst of an unprecedented international crisis.
“It is highly unusual for the Government to have proceeded in this manner, seeming to rush through a political appointment to a critically important role that needs to provide impartial expert advice.
“There are a number of vital questions that must be answered, such as what criteria were used to select a candidate, and what process was followed when the appointment was made.”
Mr Johnson’s selection of Lord Frost was criticised by former officials over what they deemed a “political” choice.
There were also claims that the Brexit minister, who took over his advisory role from Sir Mark Sedwill, had a lack of experience for the position.
However, Mr Johnson’s spokesperson denied claims that Lord Frost would simply act as a “yes man” to the Prime Minister, rather than as an impartial civil servant.
They said: “It is not unusual in other countries – ambassadors serve as national security advisers and ambassadors can be political appointees.
“David Frost has the status of an ambassador.”
However, Labour leader Keir Starmer told Sky News that it was obvious Mr Johnson wanted to get rid of Sir Mark.
He said: “Why you do so in the middle of a pandemic and a crisis instead of actually focusing on the crisis, is a question the Prime Minister needs to answer.”
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Lord Frost was succeeded as the Prime Minister’s National Security Adviser by Sir Stephen Lovegrove in March of this year.
The Brexit Minister’s replacement after just nine months in the role came before he took on the position full-time.
The Mail on Sunday, which first reported Lord Frost’s resignation as Brexit minister, said he had quit the job a week ago.
In his resignation letter he said he would step down with “immediate effect” now the arrangement for him to leave in January had been made public.
He hailed Mr Johnson as an “outstanding leader” during the Brexit talks and said that despite their recent differences the two of them shared a “close common understanding”.
In his response, Mr Johnson praised the outgoing minister’s achievements, saying he had “given everything” in his role.
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