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UK’s ambassador to the EU resigns ahead of Brexit negotiations

Nicole Morley

(Picture: Liberty Sadler)
The UK’s ambassador to the European Union has resigned before Brexit negotiations.
Sir Ivan Rodgers has resigned from his role just months before the Government is due to kick off formal Brexit divorce negotiations.
He provoked a controversy at the end of 2016 after he privately warned the Government that a post-Brexit trade deal could take a decade to finalise and that even then may fail to get ratified by member states.
The Financial Times said Sir Ivan told staff of his decision to step down ahead of his original departure date set for November.
Sir Ivan told ministers in October that other EU members believe a trade deal with the UK may not be hammered out until the early to mid-2020s.
Britain's ambassador to the European Union Ivan Rogers is pictured leaving the EU Summit in Brussels, Belgium, June 28, 2016. Picture taken June 28, 2016. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Britain’s ambassador to the European Union Ivan Rogers is pictured leaving the EU Summit in Brussels, Belgium, June 28, 2016 (Picture: Reuters)
He also said European leaders believe the Brexit deal is likely to be a free trade arrangement rather than continued single market membership.
His warnings relating to the possible timeframe for a Brexit trade deal are believed to have caused strain with the Government.
Leave.EU chairman Arron Banks, a major Ukip donor, said: ‘This is a man who claimed it could take up to 10 years to agree a Brexit deal.
‘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.
‘It’s time now for someone who is optimistic about the future that lies ahead for Brexit Britain. Enough talk, we need to get on with getting out.’
Embargoed to 0001 Friday December 23 File photo dated 27/11/15 of the Union flag and the EU flag. European attitudes towards Brexit have hardened in the six months since the referendum, with support for Britain declining "significantly" because of the approach Theresa May has taken, according to a new report. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday December 23, 2016. The report, by a group of academics working on the UK in a Changing Europe initiative, warns that many in continental Europe regard the UK as "living on Fantasy Island" over its hopes for its new relationship with the EU - something which could lead to a "showdown" following the tabling of Article 50 in March. See PA story POLITICS Brexit. Photo credit should read: Toby Melville/PA Wire
The Union flag and the EU flag (Picture: PA)
Labour former shadow foreign secretary and chairman of the Commons Brexit Committee Hilary Benn said the resignation was ‘not a good thing’.
‘I think that it means that the Government will have to get its skates on to make sure there is a replacement in place so he or she can work with Sir Ivan in the transition, the handover,’ he said.
‘The hard work is going to start very soon, because if Article 50 is triggered, as the Government says it wishes to, by the end of March, then negotiations will probably begin shortly thereafter.
‘And having a handover in the middle of that, depending on when exactly he goes, is not ideal.’

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