First Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Department head named

High commissioner to India Sir Philip Barton will be first to lead the expanded ministry
New FCDO permanent under-secretary Sir Philip Barton. Photo: FCO

Sir Philip Barton, the UK’s high commissioner to New Delhi, has been named the head of the new Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

Barton will become the first ever permanent under-secretary of the FCDO on 1 September. The department is being formed from the merger of the Foreign Office and the Department for International Development, as announced by the prime minister, Boris Johnson, in June.

Barton, who first joined the Foreign Office in 1986, has held a number of senior international appointments, including high commissioner to Islamabad and deputy head of mission in Washington, DC.

He has also been director general, consular and security at the FCO and was previously acting chair of the Joint Intelligence Committee and director general at the Cabinet Office for the 2016 anti-corruption summit.

He has also served as private secretary to prime ministers John Major and Tony Blair.

Cabinet secretary Sir Mark Sedwill said Barton would bring to the role “an understanding of overseas development funding together with experience of international relations”.

“Under his leadership, I am confident that the new organisation will strengthen the UK’s global leadership by aligning our development and diplomatic efforts to bring more coherence to our international presence,” he said.

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab said Barton was an “outstanding public servant and diplomat with experience across all areas of foreign policy”.

“Philip is well placed to bring together the talent and expertise of both departments while helping combine our foreign and development policy in a way that is innovative, ambitious and more integrated than ever before,” he said.

FCO perm sec Sir Simon McDonald announced in June that he would retire at the end of his five-year term, rather than seeking appointment at the beefed-up department.

Raab added: “I’d like to pay tribute to Sir Simon, one of the finest diplomats of his generation, who helped successfully steer the FCO during a remarkable period of change in the world. His legacy of progress and modernisation will be part of the DNA of the new departmen."

Barton said: “I look forward to bringing together our diplomats and development experts to deliver for the people of the UK and act as a force for good around the world.”

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