With Brexit negotiations just months away, Sir Ivan Rogers has unexpectedly resigned as Britain’s ambassador to the EU. The news apparently came as a surprise to No.10, with Rogers previously expected to leave the post in November.
While Rogers is yet to give a reason for his departure, the decision comes after reports of growing tensions between No.10 and Rogers over Brexit. Rogers caused upset last month when it emerged he had told ministers it could take 10 years to negotiate a free trade deal with the EU. At the time, Rogers was accused of casting a ‘gloomy pessimism’ over Brexit amid reports that the knives were out for him. Many were dissatisfied with Roger’s role in David Cameron’s EU negotiations, after he persuaded Cameron to water down his demands for immigration controls. In Tim Shipman’s Brexit book All Out War, Cameron’s aides complain that Rogers dominated the negotiation process and was too quick to take ‘no’ for an answer:
‘”We were too beholden to Tom Scholar and Ivan Rogers,” one Cameron adviser said. “They were status quo. They were happy to take “No” for an answer, happy to believe things weren’t possible when they could be possible. I’ve lost count of the number of times Ivan threatened to resign.” The politicos say Rogers was aggressive in dismissing their arguments, and went over their heads to Cameron: “He would send emails that were the stuff of legend, saying why didn’t we know anything? We were just politicos, we didn’t understand.” Another aide said Rogers’ emails were “notorious”.’
It follows that many Brexit supporters will be cheered by the news of Roger’s departure — with Arron Banks and Nigel Farage already taking to Twitter to share their delight. However, his resignation means that the government now has a short time period to find a successor who understands the intricacies of the EU and can be on top of their brief when the negotiations begin.