Boris Johnson’s chief Brexit negotiator received more than £26,000 in taxpayer funding to quit the government after serving as a minister for just nine months, The Guardian can reveal.
David Frost, who quit last December citing concerns about the “direction of travel” of future relations with the EU and taking advantage of the “opportunities” after Brexit, was given the compensation for “loss of office”.
The Conservative peer was handed a lump sum of £26,090, accounts published by the Cabinet in the week before the Christmas show.
He was the highest paid minister in the department, on the equivalent of £104,000 – almost double that of Michael Gove, Steve Barclay and Alok Sharma.
Johnson’s decision to force out the then secretary of state, Mark Sedwill, also cost the taxpayer £248,000, according to the documents.
The revelation has led to accusations that the political chaos that plagued Johnson’s government and high cabinet turnover came at the expense of taxpayers.
Frost quit as a cabinet minister in December 2021, after making clear his frustration with tax increases and the government’s “plan B” Covid policy of reintroducing some mandatory measures last winter.
However, he also had to accept concessions over Brexit, with ministers dropping demands to block the European Court of Justice from being the ultimate arbiter of trade rules in Northern Ireland and backing away from Frost’s threat to trigger Article 16.
Ministers are entitled to a payment equal to a quarter of their salary when they leave office. A stream of payments was handed out as several dozen members of Johnson’s government quit in the months before his departure.
Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, said the payout for Frost was “the cost of Conservative mayhem”.
Highlighting the struggle many face given the cost of living crisis and double-digit inflation in the run-up to Christmas, Rayner said the government had “tried to let this news out”.
She said it was done “in the hope that they don’t notice that their money has been handed over to a series of failed former ministers who have flown out the revolving door”.
Rayner added: “The Conservative Party have given us three leaders and four governments in six months, crashed the economy and then handed us the bill for their own failure.”
Before becoming a minister, Frost was a civil servant who was Britain’s chief negotiator during talks with Brussels on the divorce settlement and then future trade deal. He was contacted for comment.