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UK

Britain appoints former royal aide to run civil service

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain appointed Simon Case, Prince William’s former private secretary and a senior government official, as the new head of the civil service on Tuesday - an influential role as Prime Minister Boris Johnson maps out a post-Brexit future.

The appointment of 41-year old Case puts him in a senior advisory position in government, as well as overseeing the work of more than 400,000 state employees and making sure they implement Johnson’s policy decisions.

The job of Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service is a non-political role, meaning Case is expected to be impartial and he would remain in that position even after any change of government.

Nevertheless, the role is at the heart of decision-making and will put Case in the room with Johnson and other ministers as the government plans the nation’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and future outside the European Union.

“His years of experience at the heart of government and working for The Royal Household make him ideally suited for this crucial role,” Johnson said.

Case replaces Mark Sedwill, seen as a highly influential voice during the Brexit process, who warned about the risks of leaving the EU without a deal.

Case worked as Prince William’s closest aide from July 2018 before returning to work in the civil service earlier this year to help the government’s coronavirus response.

Before that he held several senior civil service positions, and was closely involved in work at the centre of the Brexit process on how Northern Ireland would function outside the EU.

He also worked at the GCHQ spying agency as director of strategy.

Johnson’s top political aide Dominic Cummings has long advocated the need to reform the civil service, stating in a January blog post that there were “profound problems at the core of how the British state makes decisions.”

Reporting by William James, editing by Estelle Shirbon

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