Theresa May has criticised the PM’s appointment of his Brexit negotiator to be his new national security adviser.
Speaking in the Commons, she suggested David Frost did not have the required expertise or independence to succeed Sir Mark Sedwill in the role.
Labour said the choice of Mr Frost, who is currently leading the UK’s trade talks with the EU, was “harmful”.
But Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said Mr Frost was highly qualified and would be accountable to the PM.
Mr Frost is a former civil servant, having left the Foreign Office in 2013 to work in the private sector.
He is due to take on the role at the end of August, at which point Sir Mark will also stand down from his other role as cabinet secretary, the UK’s top civil servant.
Mrs May, who appointed Sir Mark Sedwill to both roles when she was PM, told MPs that during her nine years as a member of the National Security Council, she had “listened to the knowledgeable, impartial recommendation from nationwide safety advisers”.
She asked Mr Gove how Mr Frost’s appointment squared with remarks he made in a recent speech on civil service reform on the need to “promote individuals with confirmed experience”.
“Why is the brand new nationwide safety adviser a political appointee with no confirmed experience in nationwide safety?”
‘Needs of the hour’
Mr Gove said there were precedents for non civil servants to take on key roles serving the PM and that the official that overseas civil service appointments agreed this was appropriate in this case.
He said Mr Frost would neither be a civil servant nor a special adviser but would have the status of an envoy.
“We have had glorious nationwide safety advisers up to now, not all of whom have been steeped within the nationwide safety world however have been distinguished diplomats in their very own proper,” he said.
“David Frost is a distinguished diplomat in his personal proper and it’s totally acceptable that the prime minister of the day ought to select an adviser acceptable to the wants of the hour.”
But Mrs May was seen to shake her head vigorously whereas Mr Gove was talking.
The two have clashed up to now, most notably over immigration once they have been members of David Cameron’s cupboard. Mrs May sacked Mr Gove when she grew to become PM in 2016 however subsequently introduced him again.