British Prime Minister Theresa May began 2017 with a major appointment as the country prepares to start the Brexit Negotiations. This appointment is meant to replace an ambassador who stepped down from his position with a resignation letter that exposed frustration among officials concerning the strategy she uses.
The new envoy to the EU, Tim Barrow, is a political director at the Foreign Office. He replaces Sir Ivan Rogers who abruptly departed from the post with a letter to the staff saying “speak the truth to those in power.”
The implicit criticism of the government’s approach in Rogers’ letter put rare strain on rules that shield the politically neutral civil service from elected leaders.
But there are a set of MPs who have accused Mr. Rodgers for not being strong on the Brexit issue. They claim he is “half hearted.”
BBC reports that Theresa May will in the next few weeks be scheduled to deliver a major Brexit speech.
An ambassador with solid reputation
Sir Tim Barrow served as an ambassador of the United Kingdom in Moscow between 2011 and 2015. He has also offered valuable advises to former foreign secretaries. He said that his appointment as a permanent representative to the EU is an “honour” and that he would fight to get the “right outcome” out of the Brexit negotiation table.
Downing Street had lots of kind words for him, saying he is vastly experienced and that he would secure UK objectives in Brussels. Sir Tim is expected to bring “his trademark energy and creativity to this job.”
Via: BBC News
Wider strains in Whitehall
With Sir Ivan Rogers resigning, it is about time to acknowledge that indeed the Brexit negotiations will not be as easy as many would have thought.
His resignation points out the wider strains in Whitehall amongst some ministers, mandarins as well as UK’s top leadership – the PM.
Mandarins and ambassadors perennially advise more junior mandarins on the importance of speaking truth to power, as BBC’s John points out.
In the current scenario, the leaked resignation letter from Tim Barrow evidently appears as though it is a protest and warning in one way or the other. High-ranking officials have raised concerns that ministers may not grasp the intensity of the matter and may not be able to live up to the task at hand.
Sir Tim’s appointment was welcome by both Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Brexit Secretary David Davis.
While speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, a former UK ambassador to Lebanon, Tom Fletcher said that “It’s the toughest negotiation in our lifetimes and I think he is up to it. I have seen him in Brussels. He knows the corridors, he knows the characters. “But actually more importantly I saw him in Moscow where he was incredibly resilient as ambassador there; dealing with (Vladimir) Putin in a very testing time in our relationship and Tim had a reputation of being bulletproof out there.”
Nigel Farage equally weighed into the matter with a tweet. He said that what the government had done was to replace “knighted career diplomat with a knighted career diplomat.”
When will negotiations begin?
The Brexit negotiations may be starting as soon as this April. The government, as promised by Theresa May, will invoke Article 50 by the end of March. Immediately the article is invoked, the whole process will have began.
Norway Prime Minister, Erna Solberg, said that she is afraid of Brexit. Her country is not a member of the EU but takes part in the single market in exchange for free movement of EU workers, BBC News reported.
She said that Britain may be going into the negotiations with reduced speed considering it “is a long time” since they last negotiated.