LONDON — The government’s Brexit department tried to take direct control over negotiations with the European Union after the resignation of the EU ambassador earlier this week, according to the Financial Times.
The FT reports that sources close to the Brexit process say Olly Robbins, the permanent secretary at the Department for Exiting the EU, tried to stop the appointment of a new British ambassador to the EU after Sir Ivan Rogers resigned earlier this week. Instead, Robbins suggested the appointment of a lesser position of a director-general who would report to him.
However, the Foreign Office blocked the move, according to the FT. Former Russian ambassador Tim Barrow was appointed as Britain’s new ambassador to the EU on Wednesday.
The Department for Editing the EU denied Robbins made a landgrab to the FT, saying the story was “fundamentally untrue.” A spokeswoman told the paper: “The Department for Exiting the EU is fully behind Sir Tim’s appointment and we are looking forward to him joining the leadership team.”
Sir Ivan Rogers, the former EU ambassador, resigned unexpectedly on Tuesday in a politically motivated protest at the handling of Brexit negotiations by the government.
In a 1,400-word word resignation letter, Rogers called on former colleagues to challenge “muddled thinking,” and “ill-founded arguments,” and called for them to “speak truth to power.” He adds that “serious multilateral negotiating experience is in short supply in Whitehall.”
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