The UK National Security Council
Established on 12 May 2010 by Prime Minister David Cameron, the (NSC) of the United Kingdom is a Cabinet Committee tasked with overseeing all issues related to national security, intelligence coordination, and defence strategy.
At a stroke it increased the power of the Prime Minister, who chairs the Council, and brought senior Cabinet ministers into national security policymaking, giving them access to the highest levels of intelligence.
From 1 April 2015, the council oversees a newly created Conflict, Stability and Security Fund, (CSSF) financed with more than £1 billion annually for tackling conflict and instability.
Secretary of the UK National Security Council
Mark Sedwill, (a very senior spook). Former Director General at the Foreign Office then Permanent Secretary at the Home Office was appointed by then PM, Mrs May (from a shortlist of one) in 2015, to the post of Cabinet Secretary, after the death of the previous office holder.
As Cabinet Secretary, he is the Government’s most senior adviser on strategy, policy and implementation.
He is Secretary to the Cabinet and the National Security Council, responsible only to the Prime Minister and Cabinet for the propriety and effectiveness of Cabinet governance.
As Head of the UK Civil Service, he leads over 400,000 civil servants in HM Government and the Devolved Administrations, over 90% of whom are involved in the delivery of public services to the citizens of the UK.
UK National Intelligence
Headquartered in Whitehall, City of Westminster, London the intelligence agencies are at the heart of the national intelligence machinery
The national intelligence machinery has the three Intelligence and Security Agencies, SIS, GCHQ and MI5 at its heart, with important work also carried out by Defence Intelligence and the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre.
The Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC)
the (JIC), operates within the Cabinet Office and is responsible for assessments and intelligence briefings that look at both tactical and strategic issues of importance to national interests, primarily in the fields of security, defence and foreign affairs.
The JIC’s permanent members are senior officials from the Cabinet Office, including the JIC Chairman, the Chief of the Assessments Staff and the National Security Advisor, as well as officials from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, the Ministry of Defence, the Home Office, the Department for International Development, HM Treasury and the agency heads.
The JIC also feeds their assessments into the NSC which is the main forum for the collective discussion of the government’s objectives for national security, in which a range of relevant departments participates.
It is charged with examining more specific national security areas and overseeing and coordinating all aspects of Britain’s security.
The Prime Minister is advised by the head of the NSC secretariat, the National Security Adviser, who is responsible for coordinating and delivering the government’s international security agenda.
The UK Stabilisation Unit
formed by the Labour government in 2003 it provided a 1,000-strong civilian force ensuring greatly increased capacity for planning and rapid reaction. Deployment of military reservists in a civilian capacity and police deployments was also in place.
The unit’s remit was expanded in 2015, to include crisis response and conflict prevention and control of it was transferred to the UK National Security Council. The unit, located in Whitehall is funded (£1 billion annually) by the Conflict, Stabilisation and Security Fund.
It is now a much enlarged and powerful cross-government team tasked with ensuring all departments of government have unfettered access to specialist support and resources when dealing with some of the trickiest policy challenges.
The quiet man of UK politics. He has been closely associated with the Conservative Party for most of his adult life. He was a special adviser to the Defence Secretary (1986 – 88) and a member of Margaret Thatcher’s Policy Unit (1988 – 1990).
The demise of Thatcher brought his budding career to a halt and he moved away from active politics to found and develop his own strategic communications consultancy business. Over 20 years later he sold the business, for a very tidy sum of money, to the Brussels-based Interel Group (lobbyists).
The return to power of the Tory Party in 2010 sparked his interest in politics once again and he linked up with his friend and former colleague David Cameron, in his former role of special advisor, (2012 to 2015), with specific responsibility as the principal adviser on Scotland and devolution to the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer.
He was elevated to the House of Lords in 2015 which allowed Cameron to take him into government where he served as a minister in the UK Government as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland and Northern Ireland between 2015 and 2017.
In the Lords, he is a member of the UK Constitution Committee and an Expert Member of the UK Civilian Stabilisation Group. Retaining contact with Scottish affairs he is currently a Board member of the Scottish Council for Development and Industry.
A supporter of Boris Johnson he is reputed to be formulating and implementing Tory government policies for Scotland. In this respect, he revealed his thinking in a speech he made in the course of a debate on the “possible effects of Brexit on the stability of the Union of the parts of the United Kingdom”. He said:
“Attention should be paid to the machinery of intergovernmental relations, which needs to be strengthened. We also need to look at the cross-UK synergies, weakened since devolution, which need to be reinvigorated. We need to pursue a decentralised, pan-UK strategy for rebalancing the economy, driven by city regions across the country. This means moving away from seeing everything through a four-nation prism. Many of the problems confronting Glasgow, for example, are similar to those of Manchester or Birmingham. They provide embryonic structures which can be built upon. There are two years until the next Holyrood elections. Strengthening our union must be an urgent priority whatever our post-Brexit future.”
A long read but a very enlightening one
This is the direction Boris Johnson is headed. So far as Scotland is concerned there will be no further independence referendums and devolution is to be rendered impotent being bypassed by UK government agencies working within Scotland but not responsible to the Scottish government.
The UK Stabilisation Unit is closely monitoring Scottish politics, events and personalities and has resources available to deal with any disruption or attempts at destabilisation of the UK.