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Govt attacked over ‘muddled thinking’ on Brexit


The UK’s outgoing ambassador to the EU has said “serious multilateral negotiating experience is in short supply” in Whitehall in a resignation letter to staff.

Sir Ivan Rogers resigned from his post on 3 January and is to leave the position earlier than when his tenure ends in October.

According to the BBC, Roger’s email to staff urged them to challenge “muddled thinking”, saying ministers need to hear “unvarnished” and uncomfortable” views from Europe.

The email to Brussels staff from Rogers says: “I hope you will continue to challenge ill-founded arguments and muddled thinking and that you will never be afraid to speak the truth to those in power.

“I hope that you will support each other in those difficult moments where you have to deliver messages that are disagreeable to those who need to hear them.”

He added: “Senior ministers, who will decide on our positions, issue by issue, also need from you detailed, unvarnished – even where this is uncomfortable – and nuanced understanding of the views, interests and incentives of the other 27 [EU states].”

In the note, Rogers said it would “make no sense” for him to leave his role later in the year given that Brexit negotiations are expected to start in March. His deputy, Shan Rogers, announced in November she would leave her Brussels position to take on the role as the Welsh government’s permanent secretary.

In December, Rogers told the Government a trade deal after Brexit might take a decade to complete.



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There are 4 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. ‘Muddied thinking’ is a polite way of putting it. The mess that we are currently in is driven in significant part by the rabid Brexiteers, many of whom are not exactly renowned for their great intellect. Farage and IDS spring immediately to mind. True there are some clever people in the Brexit camp, but in my view there are there to advance themselves and seek advancement, rather than any solid conviction in their cause.

    What is needed is some realism, or should that be real politic? But that is not likely to play well to those who cling to the idea of a swift and easy Brexit solution, fulfilling all their original desires of returning to a Britain that has long since disappeared into history.

    • Au contraire! The Brexiteers (being over half the British public) are the only ones who are on the side of clear thinking. Uncluttered by the hidebound and bureaucratic goggles worn by the EU mechanics over the last 40 years, during the course of their remorseless and doomed downhill journey, the majority Brexiteers may now look forward to a world of liberty and adventure – both of which are essential ingredients to future happiness and success on all fronts. We are human beings, not lemmings!

  2. All this talk is like listening to an adviser talking through a case and stating the outcomes before they have even had a meeting with the client or completed a fact find. How does anyone know what will happen, what will be said or agreed. We have a goal, the EU has an interest in making this work as well, as they do not wish to have difficulties trading with the worlds six biggest economy.

  3. Sir Ivan was David Cameron’s chief adviser for that disaster of an agreement that was being touted as a fantastic deal in the run-up to the referendum. Even ardent Remainers found it too embarrassing to use to support their case so it is probably for the best that he has gone. He is also quite probably correct in the lack of negotiating skills in Whitehall (which won’t worsen with his departure) when I think back to the number of times other EU countries seem to have come out better in many cross-border deals involving the UK. I do agree with his point that dissenting opinions must be heard – but in private and not in public as this can serve to talk the country into an unnecessarily unconfident and weak position. I think it’s called ‘making the best of a bad job’ – whether it is or is not is one thing but either way it would have been far more commendable of him than, frankly, whining!

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