The physicist took to Twitter to ask why Boris Johnson’s top aide was planning a “revolution” of the civil service. He said: “Could someone who supports the government tell me what the Cummings vision for the country actually is? I understand he wants a revolution in the civil service etc. etc. But I don’t know what it’s for. (Don’t mention Brexit btw because that’s been done so it’s no longer an aim).”
It comes after it was announced Sir Mark was standing down from his roles as Cabinet Secretary and the UK’s national security adviser as part of an alleged wider overhaul of the civil service. Reports indicate Mr Cummings played a role in his departure.
The Prime Minister’s chief adviser is rumoured to have a difficult relationship with Sir Mark.
Mr Johnson praised Sir Mark following his resignation as head of the civil service.
He told Times Radio: “Sir Mark has given incredible service to this country. He came in at a very difficult time.
“He has seen the Government through all sorts of very tough stuff – changes in the premiership, an election, Brexit, dealing with the worst bits of the Covid crisis.
“He has got a lot more to offer and I am sure he will.”
In response to the reports surrounding Sir Mark’s exit, he added: “I try not to read too much of the negative briefing.
“There is an awful lot of stuff that comes out in the papers to which I wouldn’t automatically attach the utmost credence.
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Mr Cummings is said to have told a meeting of political aides last week that a “hard rain is going to fall” after insisting Whitehall’s shortcomings had been uncovered during the coronavirus crisis.
Mr Johnson’s Europe adviser David Frost is set to fill Sir Mark’s national security adviser role – a political appointment rather than an impartial civil servant.
Former Cabinet Secretary Lord O’Donnell warned political appointees were “more likely to be yes-men” rather than “speaking truth to power”.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I’m worried about the appointment of David Frost as national security adviser because I’m not quite sure how putting a special adviser in that role works.”
But Downing Street has defended the appointment of Mr Frost to the position.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “The appointment of the NSA is always a decision for the Prime Minister.
“It is not unusual in other countries for ambassadors to serve as national security advisers and ambassadors can be political appointees. David Frost has the status of an ambassador.
“The First Civil Service Commissioner has agreed the appointment. That is consistent with the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act.”