Britain’s national security adviser Tim Barrow set for US ambassador gig

WARSAW — Rishi Sunak on Tuesday declined to shoot down reports that national security adviser Tim Barrow is heading to Washington as Britain’s next ambassador.

The U.K. prime minister confirmed that Barrow, the U.K.’s current national security adviser, will be leaving his post to be replaced by Gwyn Jenkins — Britain’s vice chief of the defense staff and a former No.10 Downing Street adviser.

The Financial Times first reported that Sunak is preparing to appoint Barrow to the U.K.’s most important diplomatic post and that his stint would begin in December or January — likely after the U.K. general election.

The Labour Party — on course to form the next government on current polling — is furious at the news and argued that such a significant diplomatic appointment should not be made by the Conservative prime minister this close to the election.

Sunak told journalists on a flight to Poland that it was “entirely normal, entirely keeping with precedent” to appoint an ambassador well ahead of their start date “because ambassadors-designate often go and acclimatize themselves and build relationships before they formally start,” he said.

However, he would not be drawn on whether Barrow was about to be appointed. “Those announcements are made in the usual way,” he said.

The U.K. is in need of a new ambassador to Washington when Karen Pierce steps down this year, after a four-year stint in the job.

Barrow has worked in the civil service for nearly 40 years and was previously the U.K.’s ambassador to the EU.

The prime minister also said Jenkins, his new national security adviser, had a “very distinguished career in the armed forces” and that it was the first time anyone with a military background had been appointed to the role since it was created in 2010.