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UK’s top Foreign Office official to quit before Whitehall merger

Simon McDonald, permanent undersecretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) | Adam Berry/Getty Images

UK’s top Foreign Office official to quit before Whitehall merger

Simon McDonald told staff he ‘fully’ respects government’s decision to have someone new lead the merged department.

By

6/19/20, 2:27 PM CET

Updated 6/19/20, 3:56 PM CET

LONDON — The U.K. Foreign Office’s top civil servant is standing down after Prime Minister Boris Johnson indicated he wants a new person to lead a newly merged foreign and overseas aid department this fall.

Downing Street confirmed Simon McDonald, permanent undersecretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), is stepping down.

“We are making sure that we have a new permanent secretary for the new Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and we will have that person in place from the start,” a spokesperson said.

According to Sky News and the BBC, McDonald told staff in an email Friday morning that he “fully” respects Johnson’s decision to have someone else lead the new department from its inception and would stand down as soon as the new official is in place and ready to lead the FCDO from September.

But when the FCO-Department for International Development (DfID) merger was announced earlier this week, McDonald had told staff he would stay on in the new department until the new year, according to Sky News.

In a statement via the spokesperson, Johnson thanked McDonald for his service and the “fantastic support he gave me while I was foreign secretary.”

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