Thursday 12 December 2019

Britain pins hopes of successful exit on 'tough' diplomat

Tim Barrow landed the job. Photo: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo
Tim Barrow landed the job. Photo: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

Sam Lister

Career diplomat Tim Barrow is a "seasoned and tough negotiator" who will help the UK government make a success of Brexit, Downing Street has said.

Britain officially confirmed the former ambassador to Russia will replace Ivan Rogers as the UK's top civil servant in Brussels from next week.

It follows the surprise resignation of the UK permanent representative just weeks before the expected start of Brexit withdrawal negotiations.

"I am honoured to be appointed as the UK's Permanent Representative to the EU at this crucial time. I look forward to joining the strong leadership team at the Department for Exiting the EU and working with them and the talented staff at UKRep to ensure we get the right outcome for the United Kingdom as we leave the EU," Mr Barrow said.

Prime Minister Theresa May approved the appointment on the advice of cabinet secretary Jeremy Heywood.

"We are delighted that Tim Barrow is taking up this role. A seasoned and tough negotiator, with extensive experience of securing UK objectives in Brussels, he will bring his trademark energy and creativity to this job - working alongside other senior officials and ministers to make a success of Brexit," a Downing Street spokesman said.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Mr Barrow was "just the man" to secure the best deal for the UK.

"Tim Barrow has been invaluable since I joined the Foreign Office in July and I want to personally thank him for his relentless energy, wise counsel and steadfast commitment. He is just the man to get the best deal for the UK and will lead UKRep with the same skill and leadership he has shown throughout his career," he said.

Mr Barrow was appointed political director general at the UK Foreign Office last March after leaving his role in Moscow. He has had two previous stints working as part of the UK's Permanent Representation to the EU (UKRep).

"UKRep will have a crucial role to play in the negotiation over the UK's exit from the EU, and Tim Barrow will add to the already extensive experience it brings," Brexit Secretary David Davis said.

"His knowledge of Brussels means he will be able to hit the ground running at a vital time, and steer UKRep throughout the negotiation period. I am confident that with his help, the UK will be able to forge a new relationship with the EU that works to the mutual benefit of both sides."

But Ukip said the role should have been given to a "committed Brexiteer". "This appointment is a disappointment because the last thing we need is another career diplomat wearing a Brussels jersey," Brexit spokesman Gerard Batten said.

"The Foreign Office needs a complete and revolutionary shake-up for it must begin to reflect the stated desire of the British people to leave the EU.

"We need to remove career diplomats who have been so spectacularly unsuccessful in protecting British interests for the last 44 years.

"In their place, we need committed and sincere Brexiteers."

Irish Independent

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