Sir Jeremy Heywood, the UK’s most senior civil servant, is stepping down because of his treatment for cancer.
Mr Heywood, who had been on a period of leave for cancer treatment after being diagnosed with the illness in June last year, said he was retiring on medical advice and with deep sadness and regret.
“I still have all that desire to serve my country and to make a positive difference,” Mr Heywood said. “It is with great sadness therefore that, on medical advice, I must now retire.”
He used a personal statement to defend the civil service, in which he said the civil service was “in robust health, well-equipped to provide the support the country needs”. In his statement, he also described his time in the civil service, which he joined 35 years ago, before going on to serve two Conservative prime ministers, two Labour prime ministers and the first coalition government in decades.
Many tributes have been made to Sir Jeremy, and these have been led by the Prime Minister, Theresa May, who said “He has worked constantly to improve our country’s future and to deliver for the public, serving prime ministers and ministers of all parties with distinction in the finest traditions of the civil service.”
“I am personally grateful to him for the support he has given me as prime minister. He has made an enormous contribution to public life in our country and will be sorely missed.”
Sir Jeremy will be succeeded by Sir Mark Sedwill, the national security adviser.