Five things you need to know about the new UK ambassador

The appointment of Sir Tim Barrow as the UK’s ambassador to the EU comes as Theresa May’s government attempts to move on from the fallout over his predecessor’s departure.

But who is Sir Tim Barrow, and what are the implications of the furore?

  1. Sir Tim is not Sir Ivan

The resignation of Sir Ivan Rogers earlier this week saw the government scramble to limit the damage. Rogers, the UK’s senior diplomat in the EU, quit over “muddled thinking” and a need to “speak truth to power” as the UK prepared for Brexit, and he warned that “serious multilateral negotiating experience is in short supply in Whitehall”. His resignation was jumped upon by the anti-Brexit side, and Theresa May’s first priority will have been to appoint a figure her government can work with.

  1. Sir Tim Barrow is an EU-experienced diplomat

Warwick- and Oxford-educated Barrow joined the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in 1986 and has served in Kiev, Moscow and Brussels. He has also been first secretary at UKRep, effectively the UK’s Brussels embassy – his strong EU experience making him an obvious candidate for the new role.

  1. He was knighted as ambassador to Russia

Barrow served as UK ambassador to Russia from 2011-2015, and was knighted in the 2015 new year honours for services to British foreign policy and interests in Russia.

  1. His appointment came through the normal civil service route

As the anti-Brexit side saw the Rogers controversy as evidence of the government’s mismanagement, May’s supporters saw Rogers as half-hearted towards Brexit and raised questions about the non-political status of the civil service. As a career diplomat, Sir Tim Barrow has come up through the ranks as usual, in a manner that suggests that the furore over civil service impartiality will recede.

  1. His appointment has largely been welcomed

Reaction to Barrow’s elevation to ambassador has mainly been calm. Sir Simon Fraser, former head of the Foreign Office, told the BBC: “I think what we need in Brussels is somebody who has experience, who’s going to be a real professional negotiator, who will be sitting in a room with lots of other very experienced and knowledgeable negotiators, and who will be able to hold his or her own in that negotiation.” Meanwhile, UKIP figures have criticised the appointment.

Shock as UK’s ambassador to EU resigns

EU expert Sir Ivan Rogers steps down from his post months early

The Foreign Office today confirmed that Sir Ivan Rogers, the UK’s ambassador to the EU, has announced that he will resign early from his role. He was scheduled to finish his tenure in November.

“Sir Ivan Rogers has resigned a few months early as UK permanent representative to the European Union,” a spokesperson for theForeign Office  said. “Sir Ivan has taken this decision now to enable a successor to be appointed before the UK invokes article 50 by the end of March. We are grateful for his work and commitment over the last three years.

Among the expressions of shock, former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg called the resignation a “body blow” to the government’s Brexit plans.

“I worked for Ivan Rogers in the EU 20 years ago – then he worked for me and the rest of the coalition government several years later,” Clegg said. “Throughout all that time Ivan was always punctiliously objective and rigorous in all he did and all the advice he provided.

“If the reports are true that he has been hounded out by hostile Brexiteers in government, it counts as a spectacular own goal. The government needs all the help it can get from good civil servants to deliver a workable Brexit.”

Former permanent secretary Sir Nicholas MacPherson took to Twitter to express his views, calling Rogers’ resignation a “huge loss” and the “wilful&total destruction of EU expertise [sic]”.