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Boris Johnson puts Brexit talks chief David Frost in cabinet – POLITICO

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LONDON Britain has a new Brexit point man and his familiar face.

David Frost, the official who led the negotiation of the UK-EU trade deal after Brexit, will join Boris Johnsons cabinet as government minister and will be London’s representative on the Partnership Council key between the UK and the EU, Downing Street announced on Wednesday.

Frost, who was appointed to the unelected House of Lords last year and can therefore serve as minister, will take on a broad term encompassing government policy on domestic and international Brexit follow-up, to an extent seen as a tightening of n ° 1. 10 grip on EU policy.

His appointment as Minister of State in the Cabinet Office means Frost can take over the UK chairmanship of the partnership council mandated by the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) struck with the EU in December. He will also replace Cabinet Minister Michael Gove as chairman of the joint committee that oversees the implementation of the 2019 Withdrawal Agreement.

Frost said on Twitter he was extremely honored to have been appointed minister responsible for advancing our relations with the EU after Brexit.

In doing so, I stand on the shoulders of giants and in particular those of [Michael Gove] who has done an extraordinary job for this country in negotiations with the EU over the past year.

This is the latest in a string of appointments for Frost, who became Johnson’s top European adviser when he entered Downing Street.

Last month it was announced that Frost would lead the UK’s institutional and strategic relationship with the EU. In his new ministerial role, he will also work on national reform and regulation to maximize Brexit opportunities, Downing Street said. It will play an additional role of coordinating post-Brexit trade policy with third countries.

‘Direct line’

The appointment was quickly greeted by Eurosceptics on the Conservative benches, with David Jones, vice-president of the European pro-Brexit research group, calling it an excellent decision.

David Frost is an outstanding negotiator and he will certainly look after the UK’s interests both on the Joint Committee and the Partnership Council, he said. Jones said the appointment would be very positive for future UK-EU relations as Frost is already familiar with the landscape of his lengthy negotiations with Michel Barnier and speaks their language. “

Trade and Brexit experts also predicted the move would simplify Britain’s post-Brexit relationship with Brussels and resolve some questions that have remained unanswered since signing last year’s trade deal. .

“Having a direct line between the current European negotiations and the Cabinet is wise, reflecting their continued centrality to the British national interest,” said Dmitry Grozoubinski, executive director of the Geneva Trade Platform.

“Let us hope that the joint triumph of the ATC signing ceremony erases any residual bitter taste left by the sometimes combative public statements made by Mr. Frost in the heat of the negotiations,” he added.

Georgina Wright, head of the Institut Montaignes Europe program, predicted the appointment would be a relief for Brussels, saying that while Frost had a reputation for being tough he also had a good understanding of the EU since his time as a negotiator. of Brexit.

The EU is complicated and understanding how to negotiate with it will be essential to ensure that this new relationship works well, ”she said.

Maddy Thimont Jack, associate director of Brexit at the Institute for Government think tank, said the reshuffle would improve the Whitehalls’ approach to Britain’s future relationship with Brussels, ending a bizarre Frost / triangle Gove / Prime Minister who had shaped recent decision making and allowed clearer accountability in parliament.

She said the decision to put the current Brexit policy at the center of government, rather than with the separate Department for International Trade, has made it clear that the UK government recognizes that the UK’s relationship with the EU is different , and it’s deeper, and it’s more complicated. “

efovi relation the “kingpin”

The staff change comes amid ongoing talks between the UK and the EU to resolve issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol, a key part of the Brexit deal aimed at preserving the deal of peace of Good Friday.

Gove has so far held talks with European Commission Vice President Maro Efovi, and officials on both sides have spoken of a relationship between the two. Gove is said to have chaired more than 200 meetings of the Cabinet committee on EU exit operations, and this role marks a shift in focus for the Cabinet minister.

But a senior government official insisted that bringing Frost into Cabinet was not light on other high-level colleagues, and instead having a minister focused solely on the post relationship. -Brexit with the EU.

Indeed, Gove, who quickly greeted the move as a big event, already takes on a number of roles as head of the Cabinet Office, which heads the entire UK civil service and coordinates policy within the UK. government.

If your intention is team success, why would you worry that another rower would row with us? said the senior government official.

Thimont Jack said it would now be vital for Frost to show that he can build and develop a good relationship with efovi very quickly.

This will have to be the keystone of it all, “she added.” I think that will probably be his big challenge, but in terms of knowing the details and understanding the intent of the UK government, he really is the right fit. this.

This article has been updated.

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