Britain’s former civil service chief, Lord Sedwill, is joining investment bank Rothschild & Co in what is his first major private sector appointment since leaving his top government role earlier this year.
Lord Sedwill stepped down from his dual role as Cabinet Secretary and National Security Adviser in August after he lost a bitter power struggle with Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson‘s former chief adviser.
He will join Rothschild’s London office in January of next year as a senior adviser in a part-time capacity, a statement from the bank revealed.
Robert Leitão, Managing Partner of Rothschild & Co, said: ‘Lord Sedwill is recognised as one of the outstanding diplomats and public servants of his generation, and we are honoured that he has chosen to join Rothschild & Co as a Senior Adviser.
‘Mark will bring a level of strategic perspective and measured judgement to enhance our group in the years ahead. His track record on the international stage speaks for itself and he will be a great asset to our business.’
Lord Sedwill said: ‘I am delighted to join Rothschild & Co. This is an outstanding institution with a proud history, strong values and an ambitious global agenda. I look forward to contributing to its continued success’.
Rothschild & Co has not yet confirmed how much Lord Sedwill is getting paid for the influential posting.
The former Cabinet Secretary is the latest in a line of politicians and government officials with links to Rothschild & Co stretching as far back as 1811.
Tory politicians Jacob Rees-Mogg, Norma Lamont, Sir Oliver Letwin and John Whittingdale all worked for the investment before entering Parliament.
Britain’s former civil service chief, Lord Sedwill, is joining bank Rothschild & Co in what is his first major private sector appointment since leaving his top government role earlier this year
He will join Rothschild’s London office in January of next year as a senior adviser in a part-time capacity, a statement from the bank revealed. Above, the European headquarters in London
The bank had also previously hired senior officials for Margaret Thatcher – Robert Armstrong, her Cabinet Secretary, and Clive Whitmore, her principal private secretary – as directors.
Lord Sedwill’s appointment was approved by the UK’s Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba), which requires former ministers and civil servants to get the green light before taking a private sector job for two years after leaving government.
The former Cabinet Secretary had to confirm that he would not be personally involved in lobbying the Government or advise clients on any policy areas in which he had direct involvement as a civil servant.
In his application to the watchdog, he said the role included ‘hosting occasional dinners and events aimed at the promotion of [Rothschild’s] business’.
Lord Sedwill left Whitehall in August with a £250,000 pay-off following a bitter dispute with Mr Cummings, who has since left the Government.
In October he delivered a parting shot at the PM’s former svengali as he described the aide’s lockdown-flouting 260-mile Durham trip as a ‘mistake’ and a ‘difficult moment for the Government’.
In an interview with the BBC, he said the incident had ‘undermined’ the Government’s coronavirus propaganda and said there were ‘genuine questions’ about whether the UK could have been ‘better prepared’ for the pandemic.
Lord Sedwill claimed the Government did ‘not have the exact measures in place’ to deal with such an outbreak.
Alexandre de Rothschild, executive director of the Rothschild Group
Lord Sedwill stepped down from his dual role as Cabinet Secretary and National Security Adviser in August after he lost a bitter power struggle with Dominic Cummings
He also said he was ‘troubled’ about attacks on the civil service and its integrity – after a string of anonymous briefings to journalists in which senior civil servants were called out.
Lord Sedwill said of Mr Cummings’ trip to Barnard Castle during the summer: ‘It was a mistake – whether everyone should quit every time they make a mistake, I don’t think is right.
‘But it clearly undermined the Government’s coherent narrative about people following the rules.’
On the Government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, he said: ‘Although we had exercised and prepared for pandemic threats, we didn’t have in place the exact measures, and we hadn’t rehearsed the exact measures’ for the challenge Covid-19 presented.
‘I think there is a genuine question about whether we could have been better prepared in the first place and that is obviously a very legitimate challenge.’
Though Lord Sedwill, who himself contracted coronavirus, was critical of the preparation, he also praised the response.
He said he was ‘really proud of a great deal’ that was achieved, highlight the Nightingale Hospital project – which saw field hospitals built in large venues across the country including London’s ExCel centre.
On attacks on the civil service, he said they had been ‘unfair’ because ‘mostly you can’t really answer back.’
Lord Sedwill also described anonymous briefings against senior civil servants as ‘damaging’. He said: ‘It is damaging to good governance and those responsible should recognise the damage they’re doing, even if they’re indulging themselves in some short-term tactical ploy.’
Lord Sedwill stepped down from his dual role as Cabinet Secretary and national security adviser in September following a reported power struggle with Mr Cummings. The Prime Minister and Lord Sedwill insisted the resignation was by mutual agreement.
Lord Sedwill, 55, left his top role with a pay-off of nearly £250,000, amid reports of a power struggle with the Boris Johnson’s (left) top aide Dominic Cummings (right)
At the time of the announcement, civil service unions accused No10 of orchestrating a series of ‘corrosive and cowardly’ briefings against Sir Mark – who Mr Cummings is said to have seen as a ‘roadblock’ to a Whitehall shake-up.
Mr Cummings was reported to have been unimpressed by the response of the Cabinet Office to the coronavirus outbreak, telling aides a ‘hard rain is coming’ for the civil service.
The PM sought to play down claims that Sir Mark’s position had been undermined by a series of hostile press briefings.
But speaking at the time of his resignation, Lord Sedwill, who has more than 30 years of Government service, hit out at ‘unpleasant’ off-the-record briefings and ‘sniping’ as he addressed MPs.
He called them a ‘regrettable feature of modern politics’. He also denied ‘resigning’, saying he had agreed with Boris Johnson to step down.
He also said there was ‘an awful lot of stuff that comes out in the papers to which I wouldn’t automatically attach the utmost credence’.
Former civil service chief Lord Kerslake in September accused Mr Johnson of trying to make Sir Mark the ‘fall guy’ for the Government’s failures in handling the pandemic.
And former cabinet secretary Lord O’Donnell suggested the Prime Minister wanted to surround himself with ‘yes men’.
David Frost, the Premier’s chief Brexit negotiator, succeeded Lord Sedwill as national security adviser at the end of August.
Mr Frost is a career diplomat but does not have a security background. Security and intelligence sources expressed concern at the appointment at the time.
However, Downing Street defended Mr Frost’s appointment, pointing out that the United States picked political figures for similar roles.
Government sources also pointed out that several former holders of the post have had backgrounds in diplomacy rather than security.
Lord Sedwill is continuing to be involved in the preparations for the UK taking on the presidency of the G7 next year.