Britain's new Prime Minister Liz Truss sacks respected national security adviser

Sir Stephen Lovegrove who urged the UK government to arm Ukraine before Russia's invasion, has been replaced by a former UK ambassador to Kyiv and Moscow

Sir Stephen Lovegrove in green tie during a meeting of national security advisers at NATO headquarters. AP
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Britain's new leader has fired her widely respected national security adviser, replacing him with a Foreign Office official who was former ambassador to Kyiv and Moscow.

Prime Minister Liz Truss took the unusual and potentially destabilising step of ousting the key person behind the UK’s major defence decisions by replacing Sir Stephen Lovegrove with her former Foreign Office colleague Sir Tim Barrow.

Sir Stephen was widely praised for his handling of the Ukraine crisis and is understood to have urged former prime minister Boris Johnson to arm Kyiv with NLAW anti-tank weapons last year, which proved vital in holding back the Russian invasion.

But Sir Tim worked closely with Ms Truss at the Foreign Office as political director, with experience across various foreign and national security policy issues including the subsequent diplomatic moves against Moscow.

“Sir Tim brings a huge wealth of experience safeguarding the interests and security of the British people around the world,” said Ms Truss. “This includes working on the UK’s response to Mr Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine.”

Liz Truss arrives in Downing Street, London, on Tuesday after meeting Queen Elizabeth II and accepting her invitation to become prime minister. Ap

She thanked Sir Stephen stating that his focus would now be on Britain’s “thriving nuclear defence industry”.

Sir Stephen, a former permanent secretary in the Ministry of Defence, was seen as one of the chief protagonists behind arming Ukraine in the months leading up to the February 24 invasion.

He also drove the defence agreement with American and Australia, the other members of the Aukus alliance, but has now been demoted to the Prime Minister’s Defence Industrial Adviser, a job that will last until the end of this year Downing Street confirmed.

Cabinet Secretary Simon Case thanked Sir Stephen for his “remarkable leadership” since taking over the role in March 2021 leading the national security response “during a hugely significant period”.

Sir Stephen Lovegrove, left, speaks with US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, during a Nato meeting. EPA

Two new ministers of state were also announced at the Foreign Office with the expectation that the government will reinstate the Middle East minister that was axed last February only days before the Russians invaded Ukraine, which led to soaring world energy prices.

Foreign Office sources said once the full ministerial positions had been appointed the department would be able to confirm whether it has reinstated a minister for the Middle East.

Leo Docherty, a former Scots Guards officer who has good knowledge of the Gulf region, was one of the ministers and Jess Norman the other.

Mr Norman, 60, on Old Etonian, has had a steady political career with ministerial positions in transport and the Treasury.

Updated: September 08, 2022, 10:55 AM