Former Prime Minister Theresa May has lashed out at Boris Johnson and his allies for appointing loyalist Brexit adviser David Frost as the country’s new national security adviser.
May said Frost, who is a close ally to the Prime Minister, was a political appointment and undermined the impartial role of national security adviser.
Frost was appointed to the role on Sunday night, after Sir Mark Sedwill stepped down from his dual role as cabinet secretary and national security adviser.
Frost, a former diplomat, has little national security or defence experience.
Theresa May angrily confronted Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove about the appointment in the House of Commons today.
The former Prime Minister appointed Sedwill to the role of national security adviser in 2017 and cabinet secretary in 2018.
“I served on the National Security Council for nine years – six years as home secretary and four as prime minister,” May said.
“During that time, I listened to the expert, independent advice from national security advisers.
“On Saturday [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?”
Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds also criticised the appointment of Frost, indicating it left Britons less safe.
“Any government should have objective and sometimes challenging advice from their national security adviser,” he said.
“That’s why making a political appointment takes this government into such dangerous territory.”
Frost takes on the role while still also negotiating a post-Brexit free trade deal with the EU.
He was a former diplomat who has served as private secretary to the Head of the Diplomatic Service, economic counsellor to the British embassy in Paris and British ambassador to Denmark.
His appointment to national security adviser has been seen as the beginning of a civil service putsch by Johnson and his chief aide Dominic Cummings.
Gove said it was not uncommon for former diplomats to take on the role as national security adviser – a job created by David Cameron in 2010 – and that he would be more of a “special envoy” than civil servant.
“We have had previous national security advisers, all of them excellent, not all of them necessarily people who were steeped in the security world,” Gove said.
He added: “The national security adviser is a relative new position, but it is also always an appointment for the prime minister of the day.
“The first civil service commissioner has agreed the position can be regarded as a political rather than necessarily civil service appointment.”