Britain’s ambassador to EU resigns ahead of Brexit talks

January 3, 2017 10:30 pm

Former British prime minister David Cameron (L) and ’s ambassador to the , Ivan Rogers (file photo)

Britain’s ambassador to the has unexpectedly resigned weeks after he stated that could take longer than expected to sign off.  
Sir Ivan Rogers told staff on Tuesday afternoon that he would quit his post early, but did not explain the reason for his decision.
He was appointed to the role of permanent representative by former prime minister David Cameron in November 2013.
Rogers, one of Britain’s most experienced diplomats on EU affairs, had been expected to play a key role in Brexit negotiations.
His resignation, just months before Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to start the formal talks, has stirred concerns that the will get a worse Brexit deal than it would have otherwise negotiated.
“Ivan Rogers’ resignation makes a good deal on Brexit less likely. One of the very few people at top of British government who understands EU,” said Charles Grant, director of the Centre for European Reform.
Nick Clegg, former leader of the UK’s Liberal Democrats who once worked for Rogers in Brussels, said the resignation was a “body blow to the government’s Brexit plans.”
Labour MP Hilary Benn, chairman of the Brexit select committee, said the came at a “crucial” point and called on the government to urgently appoint someone to the post.
 “It couldn’t be a more difficult time to organize a handover,” he added.
Last month, the BBC reported that Rogers had privately told ministers a UK-EU trade deal might not be done until the early to mid-2020s and that national parliaments of EU states could still reject it.
He was slammed for “pessimism” after his warning to ministers on the negotiating timescale was leaded in a secret memo.
Prime Minister May has vowed to trigger Article 50 – the step required to officially begin the Brexit negotiations – by March. Her critics, however, accuse her of having no precise plan to start the negotiations.
In a referendum on June 23, nearly 52 percent of British voters voted to leave the EU, a decision that sent shock waves throughout the world.
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