Simon Case, a former senior Brexit official and No.10 PPS who was poached by Kensington Palace, is to return to government as permanent secretary at Downing Street it has been reported.
The Cabinet Office this morning confirmed reports that Case had been appointed to the newly-created post, which will focus on leading the government's response to the coronavirus crisis.
Case will be the second even perm sec at No.10. Jeremy Heywood spent two years in the role from 2010 to 2012, before becoming cabinet secretary two years later.
Case spent just over a year as principal private secretary to prime ministers David Cameron and Theresa May before becoming director general for the UK-EU partnership in May 2017. During that trime he worked with the UK Representation to the EU leading the government's work on Brexit and the UK's future relationship with the EU, before moving in January 2018 to lead work on finding a solution to the post-Brexit Irish border problem.
Previously he was head of the Implementation Unit, the Cabinet Office unit set up to to support and coordinate departments’ work on key government policies, and director of strategy at the communications agency GCHQ.
He left the civil service in July 2018 to become private secretary to Prince Wiliam – the most senior appointment in the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's household, with overall responsibility for its management.
Commenting on the appointment, Institute for Government programme director Alex Thomas said Case "knows and understands No.10" having spent a significant amount of time working in and around Downing Street.
He said Case's main responsibilities were likely to be "keeping coherence and good order" as the pandemic continues to unfold.
An unnamed No.10 official told the FT the post “reflects the size of what we’re trying to do and how many strands of work there are”.
A government spokesperson said: “The cabinet secretary, with the agreement of the prime minister, has appointed Simon Case as permanent secretary at 10 Downing Street.
"Simon is extending his secondment from the royal household and will be supporting the prime minister and cabinet in developing and implementing the government’s coronavirus response.”
The prime minister’ official spokesman confirmed the move was “specifically co-ordinating the coronavirus response”, adding: “Coronavirus is obviously a very significant piece of cross-governmental work, and that’s what Simon is focused on.”
Asked at the daily lobby briefing if that wasn’t Sir Mark Sedwill’s job, the spokesman replied: “Sir Mark is the cabinet secretary. Simon reports to Sir Mark.” And he denied that the appointment should be seen as Sedwill’s “wings being clipped”, as has been suggested in the media, saying: “Absolutely not