Michael Gove has been slammed by MPs over the appointment of David Frost as national security advisor, with Labour warning that “making a political appointment takes this government into such dangerous territory”.
Responding to an urgent question tabled by Labour in parliament, the minister for the Cabinet Office defended the political nature of Frost’s selection – which critics have said should be made by the civil service.
Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds asked Gove to “give one good reason why this is a political appointment”, and asked him to whom the new national security advisor will ultimately be accountable.
Theresa May joined the opposition in criticising the decision. In her contribution to the debate she referred Gove to a government statement on Saturday, which stated: “We must be able to promote those with proven expertise.”
The former Tory Prime Minister asked: “Why, then, is the national security adviser a political appointee with no proven expertise in national security?”
'Why is the national security adviser a political appointee with no proven expertise in national security?' asks former prime minister Theresa May.
Michael Gove says David Frost is "appropriate to the needs of the hour".
— SkyNews (@SkyNews) June 30, 2020
Gove said: “The national security advisory is a relatively new position, but it is always an appointment for the Prime Minister of the day. The first civil servant commissioner has agreed the position can be considered a political rather than necessarily civil service appointment.
“While it is a unique role, David Frost’s status will be akin to that of a special envoy… he will not be a permanent secretary or a special advisor.”
The government has come under pressure after appointing Frost as the replacement to Mark Sedwill. The UK’s most senior civil servant had announced that he will also be stepping down from the national security role in September.
His departure comes amid a reported rift between No. 10 and Sedwill, and a restructuring of the civil service departments being carried out by Gove and Dominic Cummings.
David Frost is currently chief Brexit advisor. Unlike Sedwill and all other national security advisers since the position was created in 2010, he is not a civil servant but a political appointee.