Chief Brexit negotiator David Frost handed cabinet post

Conservative peer will become Cabinet Office minister tasked with overseeing future EU relations

By Jim Dunton

18 Feb 2021

Boris Johnson has handed former chief Brexit negotiator Lord David Frost a cabinet job that will see him take responsibility for ongoing work to develop the UK’s relationship with the European Union.

Frost, a Conservative peer, will become a minister of state at the Cabinet Office from the start of next month and will be a “full member of cabinet”, the Prime Minister’s Office said.

Frost’s new role will also include taking over from Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove as chair of the EU-UK committee, which is tasked with implementing December's Brexit deal.

Until last month, Frost had been slated to succeed Sir Mark Sedwill as the nation’s next national security adviser, in an appointment that raised eyebrows when it was announced provisionally last summer.

However,  Johnson confirmed a change of plan last month that saw Frost remain focused on Brexit-related work as the prime minister’s representative on Brexit and international policy.

Current Ministry of Defence perm sec Sir Stephen Lovegrove will become NSA at the start of April.

Frost said he was “hugely honoured” to have been appointed minister responsible for taking forward the UK’s post-Brexit relationship with the EU.

“In doing so I stand on the shoulders of giants, and particularly those of Michael Gove who did an extraordinary job for this country in talks with the EU over the past year,” he said.

Former Foreign and Commonwealth Office permanent secretary Lord Peter Ricketts said Frost’s new ministerial role made sense.

“In the negotiations his position was ambiguous,” Ricketts wrote on Twitter.

“He was clearly political, but wasn’t accountable to parliament. Now he becomes the minister in the cabinet dealing with the EU.”

However, Ricketts questioned whether Frost would also be dealing with individual EU member states in his new role, and what his appointment meant for the current Europe minister in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, as it is now known.

Ricketts served as the nation’s first national security adviser from 2010 to 2012 and was highly critical of Frost’s appointment to that role when it was announced in June last year. 

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