In Brief

Mark Sedwill promised shot at Nato top job

Pledge to outgoing cabinet secretary ‘could be sacrificed’ by Downing Street

Boris Johnson has told Mark Sedwill that he will receive British backing to be the next chief of Nato as part of his exit package from the civil service, according to reports. 

Sedwill, who will step down as cabinet secretary and national security adviser to the PM in September, “was apparently told by the prime minister that Number 10 will put his name forward for the highly-coveted position”, the Daily Mail reports.

Current general secretary, Jens Stoltenberg, is not expected to retire from the role until the end of 2022, leading some Whitehall sources to question whether Johnson “will actually deliver on the promise, given that it is so far in the future”, the paper adds.

Johnson told Sedwill that securing the top Nato role for the UK is “critical to his ‘Global Britain’ agenda”, The Times says. But Sedwill “may struggle to win the support of other European Nato members amid probable competition from Mark Rutte”, the serving Dutch prime minister, the paper notes.

“I think Mark is either brave or courageous to accept a promise that they’ll do that in 2022,” one Whitehall source told the paper. “I really hope they keep their word but we’ve all seen this happen before.” 

The source added that Sedwill’s hopes for the top Nato role could be “sacrificed” by Number 10 in the future for “something that they really want”. 

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––For a round-up of the most important stories from around the world - and a concise, refreshing and balanced take on the week’s news agenda - try The Week magazine. Start your trial subscription today –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

The announcement that the UK’s most senior civil servant would be stepping down “sent shockwaves through Whitehall” on Sunday and followed “repeated reports of clashes” with Johnson’s closest aide Dominic Cummings.

The Guardian said that Sedwill’s departure will be seen as a “victory for Dominic Cummings” and for Michael Gove, who “is pushing through a restructuring of government departments”.

Recommended

The UK’s most popular politicians in 2021
Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson on Downing Street
Profile

The UK’s most popular politicians in 2021

Budget: did Rishi Sunak pull any rabbits from his hat? 
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak leaves 11 Downing Street for Parliament
In Focus

Budget: did Rishi Sunak pull any rabbits from his hat? 

A look back at Queen Elizabeth’s ‘no-fuss’ approach to illness
The Queen at a reception at Windsor Castle
In Depth

A look back at Queen Elizabeth’s ‘no-fuss’ approach to illness

Does the UK need a referendum on climate change pledges?
Boris Johnson in front of a projection of Earth
Today’s big question

Does the UK need a referendum on climate change pledges?

Popular articles

Insulate Britain: what do they want?
Insulate Britain protesters
Profile

Insulate Britain: what do they want?

What is blackfishing?
Shot of Jesy Nelson with her hair in braids
In Depth

What is blackfishing?

Why a ‘super-cold’ is spreading
flu_sneeze.jpg
Getting to grips with . . .

Why a ‘super-cold’ is spreading

The Week Footer Banner