by Graham Pierrepoint
It’s 2017, and yet the drama that 2016 year wrought upon the world doesn’t seem to be dissipating just yet. This was a year in which we saw Donald Trump get elected, several of our favorite stars pass away, and Britain choose to leave the European Union. This last story has been reverberating around the British Isles for some time – and, ahead of preliminary talks set to take place regarding exactly how the UK will disembark from the Union, it seems that a whole new can of worms has been opened up.
Sir Ivan Rogers, British Ambassador to the EU – and arguably one of the UK’s best experts on the Union and the ways in which an exit strategy could have been negotiated – has made a surprise resignation from his role just days from talks being set to get underway. Rogers’ departure has not been delved into too deeply at the time of writing, however, as a staunch supporter of the ‘Remain’ side of the referendum vote, many commentators have come forward to suggest that the Ambassador may have felt forced out of the role. This, it is suggested – but not confirmed – may have been as a result of Rogers’ conflicting stance on exit matters with the ‘Brexit Means Brexit’ approach that the government is pressing ahead with.
It’s a very interesting development – particularly as it is not yet clear exactly where this will leave the UK in terms of its position on negotiating. For many who support the idea of a ‘hard’ Brexit – or even Brexit altogether – Rogers’ departure may be seen as something of a positive change. However, there is little doubt that the negotiating table has lost one of its most brilliant brains – and it is not yet clear exactly why.
It also continues a concerning trend of resignations and changes behind political doors in the wake of the Brexit referendum results – with rumors circulating regarding which result the government genuinely predicted, and with ‘Leave’ campaigner Boris Johnson allegedly having sided with ‘Remain’ in private, the whole affair remains rather tentative – and not particularly clear. With Prime Minister Theresa May due to find out soon whether or not MPs will be required to offer their consent on the activation of Article 50, it will prove to be a very important year for negotiating an exit strategy – and for Theresa May, one which will prove pivotal in the cementing of her leadership.