BRITAIN’S Ambassador to the European Union has quit his post just months before crucial Brexit negotiations begin after being ‘hounded out’ by furious Leave figures.
Sir Ivan Rogers, one of the country’s most experienced European negotiators, resigned on Tuesday January 3 as an apparent response to heavy criticisms over his remark that Britain might be in a Brexit limbo for a decade.
The senior diplomat told government ministers in December that a trade deal with the EU could take ten years to achieve, a comment met with hostility by Brexiteers who claimed a smooth settlement was inevitable as the UK holds all the cards.
Nick Clegg, the pro-EU former deputy prime minister described Rogers’ resignation as a ‘body blow’ to Theresa May’s government, amid fears that the ensuing turmoil will impact plans to invoke Article 50 in March.
There is also speculation that Rogers was targeted by anti-EU figures within the cabinet, who may have leaked his remarks to the press in the hope of forcing an untimely resignation.
Rogers was known to be against Brexit and many Conservatives believed the role should be held by a pro-Brexit diplomat who might, theoretically at least, have more of a personal stake in the negotiations.
Leave.EU chairman Arron Banks said of Rogers:
“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.”
Sir Ivan was appointed to the post by former prime minister David Cameron in 2013 and oversaw Cameron’s attempted ‘renegotiation’ with the bloc before the referendum was called.