David Frosts’s push into the cabinet marks the return of open factionism to Downing Street after months of quieter maneuvering following the dismissal of Dominic Cummings last November. But it also warns of a more confrontational British approach to implementing its agreements with the European Union.
The former chief Brexit negotiator was expected to take up the post of national security adviser this month, but he had no experience in security and the job offer was withdrawn at the last minute. In his place he was appointed as Boris Johnsons Representative for Brexit and International Politics with his policy unit at No. 10.
The retired diplomat and former Scottish whiskey seller had no policy of his own to influence, however, with Cabinet Minister Michael Gove leading EU Brexit interlocutor and historian John Bew making great strides in reviewing foreign and defense policy. Britains.
Frost dissatisfaction with his role and lack of status seem to have boiled over this week as two of Gove’s allies, Simone Finn and Henry Newman, arrived on Downing Street respectively as deputy chief of staff and senior adviser. Finn and Newman are also old friends of Johnsons fiancee Carrie Symonds, whom the Vote Leave faction blames for their expulsion from court.
Before the prime minister lit up Cummings, Vote Leave was the dominant faction on Downing Street along with a less vocal group of Johnson’s old holders from his days as mayor of London and Westminster.
Cummings controlled access to Prime Minister and Communications Director Lee Cain checked the message with a stern and willing style of dealing with journalists. The Vote Leave faction at No. 10 has now been reduced to a remnant that hardly extends beyond Frost and his other Brexit negotiator Oliver Lewis, who has recently taken over the Union unit accused of preventing Scottish independence.
Cummings was replaced as chief of staff by former Treasurer and Goldman Sachs banker Dan Rosenfield who, along with Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, restored bureaucratic order on Downing Street. But with the Leave the Vote faction defeated and the old holders weakened by the removal of their top figure Eddie Lister as special envoy to the Gulf, a political vacuum opened.
This is now being complemented by Finn, Newman and several other recent entrants who are also Gove or Symonds collaborators or both. Uncleshte unclear whether Frost really threatened to resign this week, but his resentment was enough to convince Johnson to bring him to the cabinet with a new role at the helm of Britains relations with the EU.
He will replace Gove as co-chair of the UK-EU Partnership Committee governing the implementation of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement and the joint committee overseeing the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol. Despite his occasionally overheated rhetoric, Gove has for the most part taken a conciliatory approach to his role on the joint committee, seeking to lower the temperature in recent days after trying to exploit the EU’s embarrassment about his Article 16 debacle to win concessions.
The frost style is more confrontational and he, along with Lewis, has in recent years backed the British threat to break international law by abandoning protocol in domestic market law. EU member states have made it clear that they have no appetite to renegotiate the protocol or give up, so there may be problems ahead when Frost takes over those negotiations.
Shortcomings in the agreement
Each passing week reveals a new shortcoming in the Frost Trade and Cooperation Agreement negotiated with the EU, as one sector after another awakens from its devastating consequences for their business. Frost is unlikely to admit that his deal left large sections of the British economy exposed to higher costs and higher bureaucratic hurdles in doing business with Europe, and he is ideologically incapable of agreeing on the type of rules to be extended. that can overcome some of the problems.
Ivan Rogers, the former Britains ambassador to the EU, believes Frosts’s appointment means Johnson will not accept any business requests to change the deal.
There is still a good expectation that they really did not want it and they really did not realize that this was the real implication for our sector, so if we go and lobby them now and demonstrate to them what they are happens on the ground as a result of the agreement they negotiated, they should want to reject it, refine it and reopen the negotiations in 2021. I think in shorthand my advice is: do not believe the guys. “We are where we are,” he told the EU-UK Forum on Thursday.
There are no new negotiations to take place. There is no appetite on either side of the table to reopen it. I do not think that is where David Frost or his boss will be or want to be. I think you have to go on with life and face the shock.
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