Sir David Frost, former Brexit negotiator of Boris Johnson, will be in charge of future relations between the UK and the EU and will sit in the cabinet after a power struggle in the heart of Downing Street.
This appointment means that Frost, the designer of Johnson’s “Hard Brexit” strategy, will have to address many of the concerns raised by businesses about the trade deal concluded with the EU signed by Johnson on December 24th.
This includes disputes over border control between the UK and the EU, UK and Northern Ireland, as well as issues of shellfish exports, chemical regulations and visa regimes for musicians.
Frost, the current Prime Minister’s EU and international affairs advisor, has called for a ministerial role in shaping the UK’s future EU relations. According to some Whitehall officials, he threatened to resign if he couldn’t find his way.
David asked for the pastoral role, which allowed him to gather his head and get the information he needed to do his job.
Downing Street said Frost will be the UK chairman of the Partnerships Committee overseeing EU-UK trade deals, and will replace Michael Gove, who held his “temporary” job just two days ago.
Unelected peers will also be responsible for “coordinating relations with EU institutions and 27 EU member states”. Traditionally, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs handles bilateral relations with countries such as France and Germany.
Frost, a former Brexit Foreign Ministry official who was recognized by Johnson as a colleague last year, will be promoted to Cabinet, confirming his dramatic rise in the Prime Minister’s Court. One Johnson alliance said: “Boris trusts David more than anyone in the government. They have a close bond.”
Colleagues of foreign minister Dominic Raab denied that there was a “fight” with Frost over who would control Europe’s bilateral foreign policy issues, despite protests from some Whitehall officials.
They said the foreign minister had agreed with Frost on the need to adjust their approach. Relationships with the capitals of EU countries are the responsibility of foreign, Commonwealth and development offices.
Gove’s allies argued that the Cabinet Secretary was pleased to transfer responsibility for EU relations after Brexit to Frost, including a joint committee that includes Northern Ireland.
Frost will now co-chair the Partnerships Committee overseeing EU/UK trade transactions on Christmas Eve and join Maros Sefcovic, Vice President of the European Commission.
Some officials said Frost was dissatisfied with Gove’s interim role in overseeing the implementation of trade deals. An official said, “He thinks the deal is his baby and wants to supervise it.”
Beginning on March 1, Frost’s new ministerial post took on the fourth high-ranking government role in weeks. A senior official said, “David called for the role of secretary so he could get the information he needed to do his job head-to-head.
He was Brexit’s chief negotiator until Christmas Eve and was expected to take on a new role as National Security Advisor in January. However, Johnson decided to appoint Pentagon official Stephen Lovegrove as the NSA instead, and to appoint Frost as advisor to EU and international affairs instead.
Frost is considered a Brexit hardline in Brussels who defended the purist view that state sovereignty should take precedence over market access. His appointment will not ease the recent tensions between London and Brussels.
This appointment blocked Frost’s remarkable rise, a former Danish ambassador who seemed to have stagnated his career, leaving Whitehall in 2013 to work as a lobbyist for the Scotch Whiskey Association.
He returned in 2016 as a special advisor to Johnson, who was the foreign minister. Johnson appointed Frost to lead the Brexit negotiations in 2019 when he became prime minister.
Whitehall insiders have won favors at a hard-voted vacation camp where Frost is in the top 10, who led the negotiations to prioritize sovereignty over market access.
It was also Frost who made the decision to threaten violations of international law by overwriting portions of the Northern Ireland Protocol that threatened to derail trade negotiations last fall.
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