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Dhaka Tribune

May’s plans in chaos as Brexit department head quits

Update : 19 Sep 2017, 12:04 AM
The civil servant in charge of the Department for Exiting the European Union is to move to a new role in 10 Downing Street after just over a year in the job, throwing Theresa May’s Brexit plans into chaos. Oliver Robbins is to take up a new “co-ordinating” role in Downing Street. Over the summer it was reported that he had a series of disagreements with Brexit Secretary David Davis. Robbins held a dual role, both as the top civil servant at Dexeu and May’s leading Brexit advisor, a position that had caused conflict at the top of Dexeu since his appointment. Government insiders claimed that it left Davis frozen out of decision making, and that there was no personal warmth between the two men. Robbins’ departure from the department is just the latest chapter of chaotic movements among the civil service staff dealing with Brexit at the very highest level. At the start of this year, Sir Tim Barrow had to replace Sir Ivan Rogers as the UK’s ambassador to the EU, with Rogers warning that government ministers had become unwilling to listen to or accept advice and guidance from civil servants. A government spokesperson said Robbins would continue to lead the UK side in the Brexit negotiations, but confirmed he would no longer work in Dexeu. The department said in a statement: “In order to strengthen cross Government co-ordination of the next phase of negotiations with the European Union, the Prime Minister has appointed Oliver Robbins as her EU Adviser in the Cabinet Office, in addition to his role as EU Sherpa. “He will continue to lead the official-side UK team in the negotiations, working closely with the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, and coordinate relations with the Commission and Member States. “The Prime Minister has appointed Philip Rycroft, currently Second Permanent Secretary at the Department for Exiting the EU and Cabinet Office, as Permanent Secretary, Department for Exiting the EU. “The Department will continue to support David Davis, the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, to ensure a smooth exit and to seize the opportunities presented by leaving the EU.
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