Theresa May savages Boris Johnson for making Brexit negotiator David Frost national security adviser

Theresa May launched a furious attack on Boris Johnson and his top team today for choosing a close political aide as the UK’s national security adviser.

The former prime minister tore into her successor’s decision to hand the job to David Frost, his Brexit negotiator, branding him ‘a political appointee with no proven expertise’.

Mr Frost will replace Sir Mark Sedwill, who announced he was quitting as NSA and Cabinet Secretary on Sunday amid a power-struggle in No10. 

Mrs May, who appointed Sir Mark to the post, lashed out at Michael Gove as the Cabinet Office Minister defended the change after being hauled to the Commons for questioning.

Praising Sir Mark’s professionalism, she asked Mr Gove: ‘I served on the National Security Council for nine years – six years as home secretary and three as prime minister. During that time, I listened to the expert independent advice from national security advisers.

‘On Saturday (Mr Gove) said, ”we must be able to promote those with proven expertise”. 

‘Why then is the new national security adviser a political appointee with no proven expertise in national security?’

Theresa May launched a red-hot broadside at Boris Johnson today for choosing a political aide as the UK’s national security adviser. 

The former prime minister tore into her successor's (Mr Johnson pictured today in Dudley)  decision to hand the job to David Frost, his Brexit negotiator, saying he was 'a political appointee with no proven expertise'

The former prime minister tore into her successor’s (Mr Johnson pictured today in Dudley)  decision to hand the job to David Frost, his Brexit negotiator, saying he was ‘a political appointee with no proven expertise’

David Frost

Mark Sedwill

David Frost (left) will replace Sir Mark Sedwill (right), who announced he was quitting as National Security Adviser on Sunday amid a power-struggle in No10

Mr Gove defended the decision for the next national security adviser (NSA) to be a political appointee, rather than a civil service appointment.

The role of national security adviser has been filled by Sir Mark since April 2017 – he was later also appointed to head up the civil service as Cabinet Secretary in June 2018. 

Mr Gove told the Commons: ‘The NSA is a relatively new position, but it is always an appointment for the Prime Minister of the day.

‘The first civil service commissioner has agreed the position can be regarded as a political rather than necessarily civil service appointment.

‘While it is a unique role, David Frost’s status will be akin to that of a special envoy representing the UK abroad, speaking publicly and setting the agenda for policy-making. He will not be a permanent secretary or a special adviser.’

Mr Gove defended the decision for the next national security adviser (NSA) to be a political appointee, rather than a civil service appointment

Mr Gove defended the decision for the next national security adviser (NSA) to be a political appointee, rather than a civil service appointment

It came amid reports Mr Johnson promised to nominate Sir Mark to be the next chief of NATO as part of the Cabinet Secretary’s exit package.

He was apparently told by the Prime Minister that Number 10 will put his name forward for the highly-coveted position. 

However, the current secretary general of the international military alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, is not expected to retire from the role until the end of 2022. 

As a result some Whitehall sources have questioned whether Mr Johnson will actually deliver on the promise, given that it is so far in the future. 

Sir Mark was apparently told by the PM that securing the role will be important for his ‘Global Britain’ agenda but sources fear the support could prove to be ‘half-hearted’.

‘I think Mark is either brave or courageous to accept a promise that they’ll do that in 2022,’ a Whitehall source told The Times. 

‘I really hope they keep their word but we’ve all seen this happen before.’

The source suggested Sir Mark’s hopes could be ‘sacrificed’ by Number 10 in the future for ‘something that they really want’. 

Boris Johnson, pictured during a visit to a school in west London yesterday, is said to have told Sir Mark he will nominate him to be the next secretary general of NATO

Boris Johnson, pictured during a visit to a school in west London yesterday, is said to have told Sir Mark he will nominate him to be the next secretary general of NATO

Sir Mark’s departure from the Government, announced on Sunday, sent shockwaves through Whitehall and came after repeated reports of clashes with Mr Johnson’s top aide Dominic Cummings. 

The recruitment process for the role of Cabinet Secretary is just getting underway with Sir Mark due to formally step down in September. 

But Mr Johnson has already appointed Sir Mark’s successor as National Security Adviser, with chief Brexit negotiator David Frost to be handed the role. 

However, Downing Street has been forced to defend the move because unlike previous holders of the post, Mr Frost is a political adviser rather than a career civil servant and lacks security experience.

The former cabinet secretary Lord O’Donnell has warned political appointees were more likely to be ‘yes-men’ – telling ministers what they wanted to hear rather than ‘speaking truth to power’.

‘I’m worried about the appointment of David Frost as national security adviser because I’m not quite sure how putting a special adviser in that role works,’ he told the BBC. 

Downing Street has insisted such appointments are not unusual in other countries and that Mr Frost – who has the status of an ambassador – had spent 25 years as a diplomat in the Foreign Office before leaving in 2013.

‘The appointment of the NSA is always a decision for the Prime Minister,’ the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said.

‘It is not unusual in other countries for ambassadors to serve as national security advisers and ambassadors can be political appointees. David Frost has the status of an ambassador.

‘The First Civil Service Commissioner has agreed the appointment. That is consistent with the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act.’

Mr Johnson has sought to play down claims that Sir Mark’s position had been undermined by a series of hostile press briefings.

Mr Cummings was reported to have been unimpressed by the response of the Cabinet Office to the coronavirus outbreak, telling aides a ‘hard rain is coming’ for the Civil Service.

Speaking during a visit to a school in west London yesterday, Mr Johnson insisted that Sir Mark – who will continue to be involved in the preparations for the UK taking on the presidency of the G7 next year – still had ‘a lot to offer’.

He dismissed claims that Sir Mark had been deliberately undermined through hostile press briefings, making his position untenable.

‘I try not to read too much of the negative briefing,’ Mr Johnson said.

‘There is an awful lot of stuff that comes out in the papers to which I wouldn’t automatically attach the utmost credence.’

However, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said that it was ‘obvious’ that the Prime Minister had been determined to get rid of Sir Mark.

Theresa May rejects explosive claims Donald Trump ‘bullied’ her and left her ‘flustered’ during phone calls as ‘utter nonsense’ but allies admit ‘conversations weren’t always easy because she often disagreed with him’

Allies of Theresa May have rejected explosive claims that Donald Trump ‘humiliated and bullied’ her during official phone calls. 

Sources close to the former prime minister said a report Mrs May had been left ‘flustered’ during conversations with the US President were ‘utter nonsense’. 

However, they conceded that the calls were ‘not always easy, because Theresa sometimes disagreed with him’. 

A report published this morning by legendary ‘Watergate’ journalist Carl Bernstein said Mr Trump had labelled Mrs May a ‘fool’ during conversations and had attacked her handling of Brexit negotiations.   

The US President is said to have suggested Mrs May, who served as PM from July 2016 to July 2019, had been ‘spineless’ in the UK’s divorce talks with the European Union. 

Theresa May and Donald Trump, pictured in Downing Street in June 2019, appeared to have a warm relationship in public but a new report claims the US President 'bullied' the then-PM during phone calls

Theresa May and Donald Trump, pictured in Downing Street in June 2019, appeared to have a warm relationship in public but a new report claims the US President ‘bullied’ the then-PM during phone calls 

Mr Trump, pictured with Mrs May in the White House Oval Office in January 2017, is said to have called his counterpart a 'fool'

Mr Trump, pictured with Mrs May in the White House Oval Office in January 2017, is said to have called his counterpart a ‘fool’

Sources apparently described the calls between Mr Trump and Mrs May as ‘humiliating and bullying’.    

One source said of Mr Trump: ‘He’d get agitated about something with Theresa May, then he’d get nasty with her on the phone call.’

‘It’s the same interaction in every setting — coronavirus or Brexit — with just no filter applied.’

The report claimed Mrs May had been ‘flustered and nervous’ during the calls with a source saying Mr Trump ‘clearly intimidated her and meant to’. 

But a source close to Mrs May dismissed the claims, telling MailOnline: ‘The calls were not always easy, because Theresa sometimes disagreed with him.

‘But to say that she was bullied or got flustered is utter nonsense.’ 

Mrs May was the first foreign leader to meet Mr Trump after his inauguration in 2017, and a famous image of the two leaders holding hands at the White House appeared to signal a close relationship.  

However, Mr Trump became increasingly critical of Mrs May and Britain – rebuking her publicly in 2017 after she criticised him for retweeting the far-right group Britain First. 

Shortly before Mrs May’s resignation last year, Mr Trump attacked her again for ignoring his advice on Brexit and going ‘her own foolish way’. 

Mrs May had previously revealed that the US President had advised her to sue the EU.  

The report published by CNN sets out the details of numerous conversations between Mr Trump and other world leaders.

Mr Trump’s private calls with Russian President Vladimir Putin were said to have the tone of ‘two guys in a steam bath’. 

The report suggested that Mr Putin ‘just outplays’ his counterpart during their one-on-one interactions. 

Donald Trump’s encounters with… 

THERESA MAY: Trump called her a ‘fool’ and would ‘get nasty’ on the phone, saying she was weak and lacked courage over Brexit and immigration 

ANGELA MERKEL: Trump branded her ‘stupid’ and used ‘aggressive’ phone calls to attack German policies in ‘personally demeaning’ fashion

EMMANUEL MACRON: Trump delivered verbal ‘whippings’ as he tired of Macron’s constant pleas to change his mind on Iran and climate change

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Trump boasted of his wealth and intelligence and berated his predecessors Bush and Obama but was ‘outplayed’ by the Russian president 

RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: Turkish leader would be fast-tracked through to Trump, who would be ‘taken to the cleaners’ because of his poor Middle East knowledge 

MOHAMMED BIN SALMAN: Trump would call the Saudi leader ‘without anybody being prepared’ and brag about his wealth and ‘great’ achievements as president 

KIM JONG UN: Another recipient of Trump’s rants about his own qualities and the ‘idiocy’ of his predecessors 

During the calls and others with foreign leaders, Mr Trump reportedly regularly tries to tout his own wealth and success in conversations his own aides apparently regard as ‘delusional’.

Along with the claims about calls with Mr Putin and Mrs May, Mr Trump is alleged to have called German Chancellor Angela Merkel ‘stupid’ to her face. 

‘Some of the things he said to Angela Merkel are just unbelievable: he called her “stupid” and accused her of being in the pocket of the Russians,’ according to a source. 

Sources described how former allies of Mr Trump including John Bolton, James Mattis, John Kelly and Rex Tillerson became alarmed by the calls and feared that the President was endangering national security. 

The conversations with Mr Putin are part of a web of calls between Mr Trump and the leaders of Australia, Turkey, Canada, Australia and western European countries during his presidency that officials who see call transcripts describe as ‘abominations.’ 

In the case of Russia, one source voiced fears that Mr Trump was squandering the ‘advantage that was hard won in the Cold War’ by seemingly craving Mr Putin’s approval. 

Mr Bernstein said that if the notes and transcripts of the calls were made public, even some of Mr Trump’s Republican allies in Congress would struggle to defend him. 

Daniel Goldman, a House lawyer during the Trump impeachment inquiry, said officials had gone to the media with their concerns rather than through the ‘proper channels’ after the US President attacked the whistleblower who first drew attention to the Ukraine scandal. 

‘When you take away the proper route through vindictive retribution, you cannot then complain about leaks,’ Mr Goldman said.  

Mr Trump won office in 2016 despite media criticism of his repeated praise for Mr Putin, even as Russia was revealed by U.S. intelligence to be orchestrating an election interference and hacking campaign. 

In addition to repeatedly referring to his own wealth, as he has done repeatedly in public, Mr Trump would revel in his time running the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, according to the account. 

A source trashed the calls, saying that while Mr Putin destabilises the West, Mr Trump ‘sits there and thinks he can build himself up enough as a businessman and tough guy that Putin will respect him.’

President Donald Trump characterized his predecessors as 'imbeciles' and weaklings' during private calls with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to a new report by Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein

President Donald Trump characterized his predecessors as ‘imbeciles’ and weaklings’ during private calls with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to a new report by Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein

German chancellor Angela Merkel remained calm in the face of Mr Trump's alleged aggression during phone calls, sources said (they are pictured together at a G7 summit last year)

German chancellor Angela Merkel remained calm in the face of Mr Trump’s alleged aggression during phone calls, sources said (they are pictured together at a G7 summit last year) 

Trump had regular calls with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (pictured together at the White House in November last year)

Trump had regular calls with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (pictured together at the White House in November last year) 

Erdogan’s hotline to Trump 

Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan was fast-tracked through to Donald Trump when he called the White House, it is claimed.

Mr Erdogan bypassed the usual protocols on Mr Trump’s orders – and even reached the US President on the golf course.

White House aides even feared that Turkish security agents in the US were observing Mr Trump’s schedule so that Mr Erdogan would know when to call.  

In their conversations, Mr Erdogan exploited Mr Trump’s lack of knowledge about the Middle East and ‘took him to the cleaners’, sources say. 

But Mr Trump would also rage at Mr Erdogan over trade and the fate of a US pastor who was arrested in Turkey.

The report came out days after the New York Times reported that Mr Trump was briefed on intelligence that Moscow had paid a bounty to Taliban elements for killings of American soldiers. 

The White House on Monday denied Mr Trump was briefed about the reported program. 

Mr Trump was described as solicitous of Mr Putin in the calls. Mr Putin is known as a crafty former KGB operator who often holds back in televised encounters with counterparts. 

Mr Trump would also allegedly boast about his own wealth, intelligence and achievements in office to leaders such as North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman. 

Two sources said Mr Trump seems ‘delusional’ on his foreign leader calls, which included frequent contact with Turkey’s dictator Recep Tayyip Erdogan – who would allegedly be fast-tracked through to speak to the US President when he called the White House.  

White House aides even grew alarmed that Turkish security agents in Washington were following Mr Trump’s movements so that Mr Erdogan would know when to call, the report says. On one occasion, he apparently reached Mr Trump on the golf course. 

In their conversations, Mr Erdogan exploited Mr Trump’s lack of knowledge about the Middle East and ‘took him to the cleaners’, sources say. 

But Mr Trump would also rage at Mr Erdogan over trade and the fate of a US pastor who was arrested in Turkey.

Mr Trump would apparently go after his U.S. predecessors in the calls with Mr Erdogan and Mr Putin, who have both used political power to crush dissent. 

‘They didn’t know BS,’ Mr Trump apparently said of nemesis Barack Obama and George W. Bush.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk

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