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UK's ambassador to the EU has unexpectedly resigned

Sir Ivan Rogers was the UK’s top diplomat to the EU

Prime Minister Theresa May waving to crowds at the recent Conservative party conference.
Prime Minister Theresa May waving to crowds at the recent Conservative party conference.
Image: Isabel Infantes EMPICS Entertainment

Updated 2.25pm

THE UK’S TOP diplomat to the European Union, Sir Ivan Rogers, has resigned.

BBC News reports that the EU ambassador, who had been expected to play a key role in the upcoming Brexit negotiations is leaving his post 11 months earlier than was expected.

Rogers was appointed to the role in November 2013 by David Cameron, having previously served as the former Prime Minister’s Europe advisor.

No reason for Rogers departure has been given by the Foreign Office, as of yet, according to the BBC.

Last month, he reportedly told British ministers that other EU countries believed it could take up to 10 years to negotiate a new trade arrangements with the departing UK.

But Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman insisted a deal could be done within two years that would allow Britain to trade with and operate within the single European market.

Rogers headed the United Kingdom Permanent Representation to the European Union (UKRep), which represents Britain in negotiations that take place in the EU.

“His resignation is not a surprise for those who work with him,” a European diplomat told AFP.

He was very competent, but not convinced by the Brexit decision and the British government line, leading the UK into an area of dangerous uncertainty.

The Labour MP who chairs the Brexit select committee, Hilary Benn, has urged the Conservative government to “get its skates” on with finding a replacement at this “crucial time”.

Aled Williams, the former spokesman for Britain’s EU embassy, said Rogers’ departure was a “big loss” to the Brexit negotiations.

“Not many Brits know the ins and outs of Brussels better than Sir Ivan,” he said.

“Sir Ivan never sugar-coated his advice: had the credibility to tell his political bosses how he saw it in Brussels.”

Arron Banks, who chaired the Leave.EU campaign group in the referendum, welcomed the resignation.

“This is a man who claimed it could take up to 10 years to agree a Brexit deal,” he said.

“He is far too much of a pessimist and yet another of the establishment’s pro-EU old guard. He has at least done the honourable thing in resigning.

“It’s time now for someone who is optimistic about the future that lies ahead for Brexit Britain. Enough talk, we need to get on with getting out.”

Theresa May has previously indicated that the negotiations between the UK and the Eu regarding the former’s withdrawal would begin by the end of March.

She has said she wants the “best possible deal” for trade with the EU, to create new deals outside the bloc and to control immigration.

A new cabinet post, called Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, was created in the wake of the Brexit vote and is occupied by Conservative veteran MP David Davis.

With reporting from AFP© – AFP 2017

Read: Irish in London: ‘Brexit and Trump made me feel less welcome in the UK’

Read: Theresa May has scored a symbolic win in her plan for a speedy Brexit

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Sean Murray

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