Last night’s sudden promotion of Lord Frost to the Cabinet and the re-distribution of roles with Michael Gove triggered tweeted niceties from Frost and Gove. Frost said he was standing on the shoulders of the giant Gove, and Gove said he could think of no one better to take forward the EU relationship. Really? Not even the person currently doing the job? That sounds improbable.
One minister told The Telegraph that the Prime Minister wanted a “punchier” approach to be adopted. An ally of Lord Frost said he is “a tougher negotiator” than Mr Gove. Perhaps Gove is telling the truth after all.
This morning’s Politico Playbook reveals it was Gove’s plan all along, it was he who first suggested Frost should be made a minister toward the end of last year. A point his allies are keen to stress.
Downing Street told the FT Frost will chair the Partnership Council that oversees the EU-UK trade deal, replacing Michael Gove, who had been given the job on an “interim basis” only two days ago. Very interim.
Dominic Raab’s Foreign Office would normally deal with foreigners, it seems they will instead coordinate with Lord Frost over EU issues, presumably Frost will represent Britain’s interests and as is traditional the Foreign Office mandarins will look after the EU’s interests.
Katy Balls in the Spectator reckons the appointment of friends of Gove Baroness Finn and Henry Newman as No. 10 advisers on Friday, was a trigger. “The pair are not only close allies of Gove but also in the social set of Johnson’s fiancee Carrie Symonds.”
Guido has his own tuppence to add – does the date of the appointment becoming effective (March 1) signal the imminence of a reshuffle or does that risk over-shadowing the Budget (March 3)? The given reason for the appointment of Frost to the Cabinet is that it signals to Whitehall to do his bidding. Does the appointment of Baroness Finn as deputy to Chief of Staff to Dan Rosenfeld signal that he needs help? “Dan’s less Jim Baker and more David Brent” sighs one source…