Britain’s top official resigned on Sunday after reports of clashes with Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s chief political adviser, which is expected to be a wider upset of officials at the heart of power.
Johnson’s senior political adviser, Dominic Cummings, has long criticized the public service, saying the government is not agile enough to bring about change. Some newspapers have reported that he warned his colleagues last week that “heavy rain will fall”.
Mark Sedwill, a career diplomat, was appointed Cabinet Secretary and National Security Advisor by Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May. In a letter to Johnson published on Sunday, he wrote that, having stayed during “the acute phase of the Covid-19 crisis”, he was leaving as “the government is now focusing on national and global recovery and renewal”.
Johnson’s office issued a letter thanking Sedwill for “exceptional service” and asked him to lead a new G7 panel on global economic security as Britain takes over the chairmanship of the group of wealthy nations.
David Frost, Britain’s chief negotiator with the European Union, will replace Sedwill as national security adviser and there will be a competition to appoint a new secretary to the cabinet and head of the civil service.
Johnson’s team has been criticized for its response to the coronavirus crisis, blamed by opposition parties and some scientists for being too slow to fight the pandemic. Britain now has one of the world‘s highest death rates from the crisis.
Sedwill also came under fire from Brexit supporters in Britain’s previous negotiations with the EU, with some conservatives accusing it of not doing enough to prepare for a so-called departure without agreement.
Earlier Sunday, Interior Minister Priti Patel hinted that there could be changes.
“It is the government of the people, respecting the priorities of the people, and effectively any reforming government will be based on the type of delivery that our Prime Minister wants to conduct for our great country and, obviously, will have the right type of support around of him to achieve this. “, she told Sky News.
(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Peter Graff)
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