Behind the scenes

David Frost appointed ‘minister for Brexit Britain’ after No. 10 ‘power struggle’

Unelected peer will begin cabinet role next month seeking to ‘maximise post-Brexit trading opportunities’

Boris Johnson has appointed former chief Brexit negotiator Lord David Frost to his cabinet in a role focused on forging the UK’s future relationship with the EU.

Frost, who has so far this year held jobs as Brexit negotiator, National Security Advisor, No. 10 international policy advisor and now a minister in the Cabinet Office, will be responsible for “maximising the opportunities of Brexit”, while chairing the Partnership Council that oversees the UK-EU trade deal.

Described as the “architect of Johnson’s hard Brexit strategy”, the appointment comes after a “power struggle at the heart of Downing Street” that saw Frost threaten to resign from government unless he was given a “ministerial role to shape Britain’s future EU relations”, the Financial Times (FT) reports.

His appointment as chair of the Partnership Council will see Michael Gove replaced having been appointed interim chair just two days ago. One ally of the prime minister told the FT: “Boris trusts David more than anyone else in government.”

Sky News’ deputy political editor Sam Coates echoed the FT’s reporting, tweeting last night that Frost’s appointment was a “sign of disharmony not harmony” and that he was originally “miffed” at Gove’s interim appointment to the council.

However, Politico’s London Playbook has a very different version of events in which it was “Gove who in fact first suggested Frost should be made a minister toward the end of last year”.

A government source told Politico’s Alex Wickham that Johnson has been mulling the appointment of a “minister for Brexit Britain” for weeks, adding that once he had decided that the role was needed “it was never going to be anyone other than Frosty”.

According to an ally of Gove, he is “totally relaxed” about Frost’s arrival in the cabinet, while a source close to Frost told Wickham that rumours he threatened to resign are “completely untrue”, adding: “Someone is trying to cause trouble.”

If Gove is truly happy with Frost’s appointment, The Times may have cracked the code as to why. “I think there is an understanding that Michael is going to get another big job” in the next cabinet reshuffle, a senior government source told the paper, suggesting that the Home Office or Department of Health could be his next brief.

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