Top Brexit official quits after just one year in post

Posted On: 
18th September 2017

The top official at the Department for Exiting the European Union is leaving his post after just a year following reported tensions with David Davis. 

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There was reported tensions between David Davis and Oliver Robbins

Oliver Robbins, the Permanent Secretary at the department, is moving to a co-ordinating role at Downing Street, the Evening Standard revealed this morning.

The change is also part of a plan by Theresa May to have more control in the Brexit negotiations, according to the BBC. 

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It has also been reported that Mr Robbins has had a difficult relationship with Brexit Secretary David Davis.

His departure comes amid increasing pressure on the Government over Brexit negotiations after Boris Johnson made an extraordinary intervention over the weekend.

The Foreign Secretary set out his Brexit vision in a 4,000-word article in the Daily Telegraph, reiterating his controversial claim that quitting the EU will save the UK around £350m a week, most of which could be spent on the NHS.

His intervention came just days before Theresa May is set to make a major speech on Brexit in Florence.

One ally of Mr Johnson told the Standard: “Brexit is his baby. He thinks to himself, ‘what’s the point if Brexit goes south? I think he feels he is in Government to get Brexit right.”

The Foreign Secretary and Mrs May are reportedly set to hammer out their differences over at a private meeting in New York, where they are both attending the UN General Assembly.

A DeXEU spokesman said Mr Robbins' move was a bid to strengthen coordination across departments. 

"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 said. 

"He will continue to lead the official-side UK team in the negotiations, working closely with the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, and coordinate relations with the Commission and member states.

"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."