Simon Case set to be named UK’s top civil servant as shake-up continues – report

A former private secretary to the Duke of Cambridge is reportedly set to be named the UK’s new Cabinet Secretary as a shake-up of the civil service under Boris Johnson and adviser Dominic Cummings continues.

Simon Case, who was made permanent secretary at 10 Downing Street earlier this year, will be announced as a surprise choice as the nation’s top civil servant on Tuesday, according to newspaper reports.

Mr Case, 41, spent almost two years working as William’s right-hand man before temporarily moving to Number 10 earlier this year to assist with the coronavirus response.

His expected promotion to Cabinet Secretary comes after Sir Mark Sedwill announced he would step down from the post amid reports of clashes with Mr Cummings, the Prime Minister’s chief adviser.

Coronavirus – Thu Aug 6, 2020
Dominic Cummings is said to have been a prime mover in the overhaul of the civil service (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

A Cabinet Office spokesman said: “An official announcement on the new Cabinet Secretary will be made on Tuesday 1 September.”

The move comes amid five departures of senior civil servants this year alone, under the so-called “hard rain” overhaul reportedly orchestrated by Mr Cummings.

The Financial Times reported that, in June, Mr Cummings told aides a “hard rain is coming” and promised to shake-up an “incoherent” Cabinet Office, making a smaller and more elite centre of government and overhauling Whitehall culture.

Aside from Mr Sedwill’s departure, three permanent secretaries have resigned this year: the Home Office’s Philip Rutnam, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Simon McDonald, and Richard Heaton from the Ministry of Justice.

And last week, Jonathan Slater was removed from the post of permanent secretary at the Department of Education following the controversy surrounding this year’s A-levels and GCSEs.

A-Level results
Jonathan Slater was removed as permanent secretary at the Department for Education last week (House of Commons/PA)

Civil service leaders say the departures represent an erosion of trust between the Government and the civil service.

After Mr Slater’s removal, Dave Penman, leader of the FDA union which represents senior public servants, said: “If it wasn’t clear before, then it certainly is now – this administration will throw civil service leaders under a bus without a moment’s hesitation to shield ministers from any kind of accountability.

“After this Government’s continuous anonymous briefings to the press, trust between ministers and civil servants is already at an all-time low and this will only damage it further.”

A doctor of philosophy, the Cambridge-educated Mr Case joined the civil service in 2006. His relative lack of experience in the civil service is reported to have made him a surprise choice to replace Mr Sedwill.

Aside from his role with the Duke of Cambridge, his career has including helping deliver the 2012 London Olympics, a tenure as private secretary to former prime minister David Cameron, and working on the Irish border issue created by Brexit.

Mr Case will be the youngest cabinet secretary since 1916 and is younger than all permanent secretaries bar one, The Times reported, adding he did not initially seek the job but was asked to make a formal application by Downing Street.

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