‘I am deeply proud’: Sedwill writes to civil servants after announcing departure plans

“I know I can count on you as the government navigates its way through the great challenges that lie ahead,” cabinet secretary writes
Photo: Tom Hampson/Civil Service World

Sir Mark Sedwill has told civil servants it has been a “privilege” to lead them as he prepares to step down as cabinet secretary and head of the civil service in September. 

In an internal memo to civil servants this morning, Sedwill said the time was right for him to stand down “as we come to the end of the acute phase of the Covid-19 crisis and the government’s focus shifts to domestic and global recovery and renewal”.

The message came after Sedwill announced his plans to step down yesterday evening. In a letter to Boris Johnson, the former diplomat said he and the prime minister had "agreed that I will stand down".

In his email today, Sedwill added: “The prime minister and I have agreed that, as he leads the country through this next phase, he will need a separate national security adviser to support him on the global agenda, permitting the cabinet secretary and head of the civil service to focus on the domestic agenda.”

The announcement followed months of briefing against Sedwill and after Johnson's top political aide, Dominic Cummings, said a "hard rain” would fall on Whitehall after the coronavirus  pandemic.

David Frost, Johnson’s top Brexit negotiator, will become the next national security adviser – a title Sedwill has held alongside his cab sec and head of the civil service roles.

Frost’s appointment will make the NSA post, which was formally created in 2010, a special adviser role rather than a civil service one.

He said his successor as cab sec should see Boris Johnson through the rest of this parliament.

In his email this morning, Sedwill said he was “deeply proud of the service and of everything we have achieved together”.

“In my time as cabinet secretary, I have had the privilege of witnessing the dedication and hard work of so many public servants throughout the United Kingdom, whether in the response to the Salisbury attacks, preparations for Brexit, handling the immense health, economic and social challenges of Covid and in the services we provide every day to our fellow citizens,” he wrote.

“I know I can count on you to support the government as it navigates its way through the great challenges that lie ahead, with the values which are, and always have been, at the heart of the service of leaders to which we belong: honesty, integrity, impartiality, compassion and, most important, a fierce determination to serve the best interests of the citizen, community and country.”

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