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UK envoy who quit top European Union post resigns from civil service

Ivan Rogers came under pressure following last month's leak of his suggestion that it could take up to a decade to strike a new trade deal.

By: AP | London |
January 7, 2017 7:26:41 pm
Ivan Rogers UK envoy resigns, Ivan Rogers resignation, European Union, Brexit, UK prime Minister, Theresa May, May UK PM,   FILE – In this file photo dated Friday, Feb. 19, 2016, British Prime Minister David Cameron, left, and Britain’s permanent representative to European Union Ivan Rogers, right, leave after an EU summit in Brussels. The British Foreign Office announced Tuesday Jan. 3, 2017, that Rogers has resigned, without giving any details about his departure. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert, FILE)

A senior British diplomat who warned that negotiating a European Union exit could take 10 years has quit the civil service, days after stepping down as the United Kingdom’s envoy to the bloc, the government said Saturday. Ivan Rogers unexpectedly resigned as Britain’s permanent representative in Brussels on Tuesday, months before divorce talks are due to start, fueling opposition claims that the government’s plans for Britain’s EU exit are in disarray.

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Ivan Rogers came under pressure following last month’s leak of his suggestion that it could take up to a decade to strike a new trade deal. Politicians who support Brexit called him overly negative. Tim Barrow, a former UK. ambassador to Russia, has been appointed to replace him. In a farewell email that was leaked to the media, Rogers told his staff to beware of politicians, “ill-founded arguments and muddled thinking.”

Britain’s Foreign Office said Rogers had not sought a new post, “and has therefore resigned from the civil service with immediate effect.” Prime Minister Theresa May says she will invoke Article 50 of the EU’s key treaty, triggering two years of EU exit talks, by March 31. May has refused to reveal details of Britain’s goals or negotiating strategy, saying that would weaken its hand.

Hard-core Brexiteers in May’s Conservative government want to quit the EU’s single market in goods and services, gaining the freedom to strike trade deals elsewhere and to end free movement of people from the EU to Britain. But other Cabinet ministers fear leaving the single market would spell disaster for British businesses. On Saturday a major Conservative donor threatened to stop funding the party if Britain leaves the single market. Andrew Cook, chairman of a firm that makes components for the rail, energy and defense industries, said single-market membership was “critical” to his business and many others.

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