A former private secretary to the Duke of Cambridge is set to be the next head of the civil service, it emerged today.
Simon Case, drafted in by Boris Johnson to be the top aide at Number 10 earlier this year, is expected to be unveiled as the youngest Cabinet Secretary in living memory tomorrow.
The appointment of the 41-year-old, reported by the Financial Times, represents the latest stage in the Government’s dramatic shake-up of Whitehall.
Sir Mark Sedwill previously stepped down from the post with a £250,000 package after apparent clashes with maverick adviser Dominic Cummings.
Mr Case spent almost two years working as Prince William’s right-hand man before temporarily moving to Downing Street earlier this year to assist with the coronavirus response.
Simon Case (pictured last year when he was private secretary to the Duke of Cambridge) is expected to be announced as the new head of the civil service tomorrow
The appointment of the 41-year-old would represent the latest stage in the dramatic shake-up of Whitehall by Boris Johnson
Royal aide becomes youngest Cabinet Secretary in living memory
At just 41, many thought that Simon Case would prove too young for the top job in the civil service.
But the married father of two daughters has been a high flier in public service for many years.
Having joined the civil service in 2006, the Cambridge graduate’s roles have included helping to deliver the London Olympics in 2012, private secretary to David Cameron, and being part of Theresa May’s EU negotiations team.
But crucially he was not among the tight-knit group blamed by many Brexiteers for bungling the divorce talks with Brussels.
Mr Cameron was apparently so impressed by Mr Case that he was ready to award him a knighthood on leaving office.
But then-Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood advised him to shun the accolade as it was deemed to be too early in his career to accept such an honour.
Mr Case was drafted back into Whitehall to become permanent secretary at No10 earlier this year after a spell as private secretary to Prince William.
Boris Johnson is said to have personally called Prince William to ask for permission to ‘borrow’ Mr Case.
His arrival back on the political scene was widely regarded as sealing the fate of predecessor Sir Mark Sedwill.
Downing Street had not had its own permanent secretary for eight years.
It was Mr Case, rather than Sir Mark, who was tasked with carrying out the review into the two-metre social distancing rule that resulted in it being downgraded to ‘one metre plus’.
Sources told The Spectator that Mr Case is ‘patriotic to his core’ and a ‘passionate unionist’.
But he was also described as ‘a bit of a gossip’ who has a ‘slightly pompous’ approach.
There had been speculation that a longer-serving official, such as Department of Health permanent secretary Chris Wormald, might get the top job.
The senior mandarin at the Trade Department, Antonia Romeo, had also been widely tipped.
However, Mr Case, who is married and has two children, seems to have been given the nod. No10 source insisted the process had been handled by First Civil Service Commissioner Ian Whatmore.
A Cabinet Office spokesman said: ‘An official announcement on the new Cabinet Secretary will be made on Tuesday 1 September.’
In June there were reports Mr Cummings told political aides a ‘hard rain is coming’ in Whitehall, suggesting the Cabinet Office needed radical overhaul.
A series of mandarins have departed during the drive for change.
The recruitment of Mr Case as the permanent secretary at No10 was seen as sealing the fate of Sir Mark.
Downing Street had not had its own permanent secretary for eight years – since former Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood gave up the title.
Mr Case previously worked on the Brexit negotiations, and is well-regarded within the PM’s close circle.
It was he, rather than Sir Mark, who was tasked with carrying out the review into the two-metre social distancing rule that resulted in it being downgraded to ‘one metre plus’.
One senior official told the FT: ‘Simon’s appointment is very much a “hard rain” appointment.
‘It’s a sign they want to do things quickly.
‘But if the other permanent secretaries don’t recognise that person as ‘the boss’ there will be trouble. Will he find that the levers aren’t attached to anything?’
While out of government, Mr Cummings wrote extensive blogs detailing his fondness for ‘red teams’ explicitly tasked with finding reasons why policies should not be pursued, and his criticism of the Whitehall infrastructure.
That included saying the Cabinet room was not fit for purpose because it does not have any ‘tools’ for modern times – with even the clock not always working.
The former Vote Leave chief, who worked for Michael Gove at the Department for Education, previously described the civil service machine as ‘Kafkaesque’, and wrote of support for ministers: ‘The whole structure of “submissions” and “red boxes” is hopeless. It is extremely bureaucratic and slow…
‘The whole approach reinforces the abject failure of the senior civil service to think about high performance project management.’
Civil service unions accused No10 of orchestrating a series of ‘corrosive and cowardly’ briefings against Sir Mark – whom Mr Cummings is said to have seen as a ‘roadblock’ to a Whitehall shake-up.
Sir Mark has previously hit out at ‘unpleasant’ off-the-record briefings and what he described as political ‘sniping’.
Giving evidence to MPs, he called them a ‘regrettable feature of modern politics’. He also denied ‘resigning’, saying he had agreed with Boris Johnson to step down.
Sir Mark Sedwill previously stepped down from the post with a huge pay-off after apparent clashes with maverick adviser Dominic Cummings (pictured earlier this month
Sir Mark (pictured giving evidence to Parliamentarians) has hit out at ‘unpleasant’ off-the-record briefings and ‘sniping’