The Duke of Cambridge’s former private secretary has been appointed to lead the civil service and push through radical reforms of how the British state is run.
Boris Johnson has chosen 41-year-old Simon Case as the new Cabinet Secretary, making him the youngest holder of the top civil service job since 1916.
Mr Case is understood to have impressed the Prime Minister since his appointment in May as permanent secretary, a move designed to bring some order to the Government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.
He replaces the departing Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill who stands down in September after losing a power struggle with Mr Johnson’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings.
Mr Case, said to be part of the Prime Minister’s inner circle and a Leave supporter, will be handed the task of overhauling the civil service that will see more power vested in the centre.
In June, Mr Cummings told political aides that a “hard rain is coming” and promised to overhaul an “incoherent” Cabinet Office, creating a smaller and more elite centre of government and shaking up Whitehall culture.
A source who knows Mr Case well said: "There are very few people with the experience at the centre that Simon has. Sir Jeremy Heywood [Cabinet Secretary until 2018] had it but very few special advisers or civil servants of Simon's standing do.
“So he has that rare combination of political and Whitehall nous. He's very good at solving problems, which is what Downing Street needs right now. He makes places more decisive. Simon knows how to action things.
“If Number 10 is struggling getting different departments to do things, then Simon is the person who can work out how they can get them to do what they want."
Mr Case will take over as head of the civil service at a time when there is growing unease at the treatment of senior mandarins who have been ousted or quit after falling out of favour with ministers.
Jonathan Slater, the top civil servant at the Department for Education, was sacked last week following this summer’s A-level grading fiasco, the fifth permanent secretary to leave their post in the last six months.
Mr Case joined the civil service in 2006 and his career has included jobs helping to deliver the 2012 London Olympics, working as private secretary to former prime minister David Cameron, and trying to resolve the Irish border issue thrown up by Brexit.
A royal source said Mr Case would likely remain as an "unofficial adviser" to the Duke of Cambridge, with whom he has grown close since he was appointed as his private secretary in March 2018.
"They have a close personal friendship so I am sure the Duke will want Simon to remain in touch. He was very sad to see him go but realised he needed to give him up for the sake of the country."
When Mr Case joined Mr Johnson’s Number 10 team it was seen as a sign that Sir Mark’s authority as Cabinet Secretary was waning. In June, Mr Johnson in effect sacked Sir Mark, who will now take up a seat in the House of Lords.
Mr Case will work alongside the Prime Minister’s chief Brexit negotiator David Frost, a long-time ally of Mr Johnson, who took over from Sir Mark Sedwill as National Security Adviser in September
The post of Cabinet Secretary is usually regarded as the pinnacle of a long career in Whitehall and Mr Case beat off more experienced rivals to the job.
They included the presumed frontrunner Sir Christopher Wormald, permanent secretary at the Department of Health, Charles Roxburgh, a senior Treasury official, and Antonia Romeo, permanent secretary at the Department for International Trade