Career diplomat David Frost handed in his resignation to his job as a British negotiator in the post-Brexit phase, citing his disagreement with the direction taken by Boris Johnson's government, thus dealing yet another blow to the Prime Minister's image.
Johnson Sunday appointed Foreign Minister Liz Truss to lead post-Brexit affairs following Frost's departure Saturday night.
Frost was handling post Brexit contacts with the European Union (EU), particularly the conflictive Protocol for Northern Ireland between London and Brussels. under which provides for a new customs regime for the British province, which ‘de facto’ maintains it in the EU internal market. London has been delaying customs controls for months because the trade border is fixed in the Irish Sea, between Great Britain and Ireland. Negotiations on this issue are to resume in January.
Truss, 46, in charge of British diplomacy since September, will now take over from Frost, it was announced. Liz Truss will assume ministerial responsibility for the relationship with the European Union with immediate effect, the Government said in a statement.
European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic indicated on Twitter that he would continue to cooperate with the UK in the same constructive spirit.
After initially defending permanence in the European Union during the 2016 referendum, Truss said she had changed her mind, explaining that she saw Brexit as a source of economic opportunity. Truss is a popular figure in the ranks of the conservative majority. Her name regularly comes up as a possible successor to Boris Johnson.
Johnson is surrounded by scandals. Last week he suffered a revolt from within on his Conservative party due to measures against COVID-19, followed by the loss of a conservative stronghold in a by-election in England. He is also facing a flare-up of coronavirus cases of the omicron variant.
In his resignation letter Frost pointed out the new restrictions to combat the coronavirus, the increase in taxes and the policy applied to achieve carbon neutrality in 2050, were the reasons for his departure.
You know my concerns regarding the current handling of affairs, he wrote to Johnson, emphasizing that with Brexit already secured, now the challenge for the government is to seize the opportunities.
In his note, Frost said he initially planned to step down in January to ensure a smooth transition, but decided to resign immediately after his upcoming departure was leaked to the press. “It is disappointing that this plan has become public,” Frost said.
You took a brave decision in July, against considerable opposition, to open up the country again. Sadly, it did not prove to be irreversible, as I wished, and believe you did too. I hope we can get back on track soon and not be tempted by the kind of coercive measures we have seen elsewhere, Frost told Johnson. Nearly 100 Conservative MPs voted against the government’s plan on new COVID-19 restrictions. Johnson has also been criticized for several Christmastime gatherings by government officials last year, which reportedly broke lockdown rules.
The Prime Minister thanked Frost for his “relentless hard work, resolve and vision” during the contentious talks with the EU.
Frost had worked in Brussels in the 1990s and was ambassador to Denmark between 2006 and 2008. He has also led the Scotch Whiskey Association (SWA), now headed by former London's Ambassador to Buenos Aires Mark Kent.