UK health minister understands Brexit colleague Frost's resignation

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FILE PHOTO: : Britain's Minister of State Lord David Frost walks outside Downing Street in London
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  • Boris Johnson
    Boris Johnson
    Prime Minister of the United Kingdom since 2019
  • Sajid Javid
    British politician (born 1969)

LONDON (Reuters) -British health minister Sajid Javid said on Sunday he understood the resignation of Brexit minister David Frost, who was disillusioned with the direction of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government.

Frost's resignation was another blow to Johnson as he faces scandals and the spreading Omicron COVID-19 variant. It also raised questions about the future tone of the European Union (EU) divorce and the course of talks on Northern Ireland.

Frost said he was confident that Brexit was secure, but said he had concerns about the government's direction.

"I do understand his reasons. He is a principled man. Principled people do resign from the government," Javid told Sky News.

The European Commission declined to comment when asked for reaction to Frost's resignation. France’s Europe minister Clement Beaune said on Sunday it was time for the British government to rebuild a climate of trust with France and the EU.

'WAR-TIME LEADER' NEEDED

That view was echoed by some of Johnson's own lawmakers.

"The question now is 'Who replaces him?' Is he going to be replaced by someone who is just designed to perhaps appease a wing of the (Conservative) Party or is this actually a real opportunity to press the reset button with the EU?" senior Conservative lawmaker Tobias Ellwood told Times Radio.

Frost's departure comes on top of warnings from some of Johnson's lawmakers that he must improve his leadership or face a challenge after a litany of controversies and missteps including reports of parties at his office during lockdown.

Javid said Johnson was the best person for Britain's challenges but Ellwood said decision-making in the prime minister's 10 Downing Street office needed to be improved.

"If you don’t have that collective direction of travel, particularly when dealing with an enduring emergency such as Covid, then people will question as to where is all this is heading," he said. "This is not fair weather conditions, we need almost like a war-time leader, we need a strong No. 10."

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan, additional reporting by Robin Emmott in Brussels and Michel Rose in Paris; editing by Jason Neely and Andrew Cawthorne)

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