UK Home Office perm sec chosen as top security adviser to Theresa May

By on 01/03/2017 | Updated on 24/09/2020
Mark Sedwill, recently appointed national security advisor to Theresa May

The permanent secretary of UK prime minister Theresa May’s previous department, the Home Office, has been appointed to the role of National Security Advisor.

Mark Sedwill becomes the latest official to move from the Home Office to enter May’s inner circle of advisers, joining a clutch of special advisers and officials who’ve already gone over to Number 10 and the Cabinet Office.

He replaces Sir Mark Lyall Grant, who is retiring on 13 April. Sedwill will himself be replaced at the Home Office by Philip Rutnam, currently the permanent secretary at the Department for Transport (DfT).

In his new position, Sedwill will chair the National Security Council and offer advice to the prime minister on national security issues.

Sedwill has been the permanent secretary at the Home Office since 2013, before which he held a number of senior jobs in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. These included British ambassador to Afghanistan, deputy high commissioner to Pakistan, and private secretary to former British foreign secretaries Robin Cook and Jack Straw. He was also a UN weapons inspector in the 1990s.

In a statement on the appointment, May said: “Mark Sedwill’s experience means that he is ideally qualified to take up the critically important role of National Security Adviser. As well as his recent time in the Home Office, he has served in both Afghanistan and Pakistan and has wide-ranging experience of foreign and security policy issues.”

Sedwill joins a coterie of loyal advisers who have joined May following her transition from home secretary to prime minister. These include May’s two joint chiefs of staff, Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, who were her two main special advisers at the Home Office; and Peter Storr, Will Tanner and John Godfrey – all former Home Office policy or advisory staff and now in senior positions in Downing Street.

A Civil Service Commission-led competition has been launched to find a successor to Rutnam. Meanwhile Jonathan Moor, director general for resources and strategy at the DfT, will be acting permanent secretary.

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See also:

May’s hard Brexit: starting position or ultimate goal?

Report: ‘Deluded’ UK cannot afford to be smug on Brexit

Kerslake review: Treasury ‘disempowers’ rest of Whitehall

Britain to leave Customs Union, says PM – but she’s flexible on timing and budgets

Olly Robbins appointed head of government’s new Brexit unit

Alex Chisholm appointed new permanent secretary of UK’s energy department

Tom Scholar appointed new permanent secretary of UK Treasury

Stephen Lovegrove appointed new permanent secretary of the UK’s Ministry of Defence


About Ben Willis

Ben Willis is a journalist and editor with a varied background reporting on topics including public policy, the environment, renewable energy and international development. His work has appeared in a variety of national newspapers including the Guardian, Daily Telegraph and Times, as well as numerous specialist business, policy and consumer publications.

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