The resignation of Sir Ivan Rogers

3rd January 2017

The announcement today of the resignation of Sir Ivan Rogers as the UK’s ambassador to the EU is significant.

Coming just weeks before the planned Article 50 notification, the resignation is a setback on any sensible view.

During the run up to the notification, when the government (we are told) is finalising its negotiation strategy, the UK is likely not to have a lead negotiator in place in Brussels, let alone one helping shape the Brexit strategy.

Whatever one’s view of Brexit, this cannot be a good thing.

Some are seeking to dismiss the resignation as being of no importance.

A few are taking comfort from Rogers being the one who led the botched Cameron negotiation before the referendum.

The Cameron negotiation was, of course, doomed from its inception.

There was no surprise that the big demands got nowhere and the small concessions gained were soon forgotten.

The fault of that botched exercise lay with the lack of realism of the Cameron circle (who then tried to blame Rogers and others) and not with those who pointed out the problems.

If you look at the detail of what happened in the Cameron “deal” then you will see vindication for Rogers and others who warned of the problems.

Cameron went to Brussels to demand the impossible, and had no back-up plan if things did not go as he hoped.

And May is about to do exactly the same.

The UK is not bound to make a bad deal in exiting the EU.  Few things are impossible in human affairs.

But the loss of Rogers (and his cautious realism and knowledge of those involved) makes a bad deal more likely, especially at this point in the negotiation preparations.

The inevitable effect of the resignation is that the negotiation preparations will now take place without the involvement of the person who will lead the UK side in the negotiations.


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12 thoughts on “The resignation of Sir Ivan Rogers”

  1. Rogers’ departure is indeed a blow to the UK’s negotiating position. May et al, if her silence and reliance on cliches is anything to go by, seems determined to fall into the over optimistic traps that now engulf the more extreme Brexiteers. In saying this I hope I’m wrong.

  2. The EU team should offer Sir Ivan an advisory role on their negotiation team. That would wind up the Brexit camp and the Mayists.

  3. “Cameron went to Brussels to demand the impossible, and had no back-up plan if things did not go as he hoped.”

    This is the exact opposite of what actually happened.

    According to Craig Oliver and Tim Shipman’s accounts of the negotiations, Cameron made a conscious choice to only ask for what he thought he could get, which was very little. This strategy was supported by Sir Ivan, who warned Cameron against asking for more.

    As a result the negotiations could never have achieved anything worthwhile and were doomed to fail.

    1. Cameron certainly ended up at that position: but if you read further back in Shipman’s book, you will see that was not Cameron’s original intention for the wondrous deal he wanted so as to launch the referendum campaign. Think back to the Bloomberg speech. That was when the journey to Brussels began.

      When the final “deal” was (inevitably) a damp squib, then Cameron had nothing to offer the referendum campaign. The “deal” was then forgotten.

  4. Well I have been trying to figure out who the direct UK counterpart to Barnier would be. The person leading our team on a daily basis in that colourful conference room. Clearly May and Davis can’t do a solid 9 to 5 in Brussels for two years and there is a full time job to be done. Seems like it would have been Sir Ivan, and now it is A.N. Other, unless anyone knows different.

  5. This country is finished. The UK has no future because it will disintegrate. The Scots will experience a renewed vigour to go it alone, and in embracing them the EU not be able to afford to let them fail. And the credit for this annihalism? Brexit, pure and simple.

  6. It dies seem to make the “train crash Brexit” more likely. Something that hard line Brexiteers are hoping for, but they will definitely not be ones trying to cope with the real aftermath. Political game playing. Expect to see banks and other big companies bringing forward their Plan B. As has been warned several times, those companies know that any decision is normally better than no decision, so will accept the risks involved in a planned bailout from the UK.

  7. There is an interesting point about Sir Ivan’s previous warnings. He was obviously right in saying the EU would not make concessions; that in itself is a strong argument for Brexit, rather than remaining in an international organization that seeks to impose on its members rather than represent them.

    He was also unable to persuade the Eurocrats that the referendum was serious and Remain could lose. So they didn’t take Britain and its requests for concessions seriously either.

    Unless, of course, they did, and WANTED Britain to vote out. After all, which was the one nation that was against trans-national matters such as the Tobin tax, a common defence policy, an EU army, an EU border force…?

    I’m also a bit suspicious about the timing – the day that manufacturing figures suggested the UK was at a 3 year high – and indeed the fact of resignation; how often do civil servants resign because they disagree with a political decision? It smacks of a deliberate campaign to undermine Brexit.

  8. People in the UK seem to think that the UK will be able to negotiate some special deal, and that EU does not mean what it says. However the Interlaken Principles are quite clear:
    The first is that in developing relations with non-member states the EU will always prioritise its own internal integration. The EU’s interests come first.
    The second is that the EU will always safeguard its own decision-making autonomy. In other words, involvement in the EU’s institutions – such as the European Parliament, the Council or the Commission – and decision-making processes is reserved for member states and member states alone. Non-member states have no say even if they are obliged to implement the EU’s decision
    The third principle is that any relationship must be based on “a balance of benefits and obligations”. It is not for the non-member state to choose only those aspects of EU integration it likes. Relationships have to involve a balance. And, in practice, that balance is generally tipped very much towards the EU’s interests.

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