This article was originally published on The Commentator.
Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to appoint Sir Tim Barrow as Britain’s Ambassador to the EU appears to have achieved the rare distinction of making both ‘Leavers’ and ‘Remainers’ happy.
It’s a move which has been welcomed so widely because, more than anything, it relates to the government’s commitment to getting the best deal from Brexit.
Sir Tim is a definite improvement over the outgoing Ambassador, Sir Ivan Rogers. Sir Ivan was fundamentally unsuited to handling even the first few months of our Brexit negotiations, considering his association with David Cameron’s failed attempt to renegotiate the terms of our EU membership last year.
In Tim Shipman’s All Out War, it’s suggested Sir Ivan behaved high-handedly throughout the renegotiation process, frequently threatening to resign, and being dismissive of efforts within Cameron’s team to get more substantial reforms on the table.
No wonder his resignation this week brought a glowing tribute from staunch European Federalist Guy Verhofstadt, who called Sir Ivan ‘much respected’ and said he ‘knew what he was talking about’.
Rogers’ lack of the necessary ambition to tackle these negotiations and get the best deal for the United Kingdom has only been confirmed by his actions since the EU Referendum vote on June 23rd, from his claim Brexit could take a decade to negotiate to his petulant resignation letter.
Nonetheless, Sir Ivan is to be applauded for stepping aside now rather than leaving, as originally planned, in the middle of the Article 50 negotiations. His resignation means such disruption can now be avoided.
His departure paved the way for May to swiftly appoint Barrow, who is far more suitable for the task which awaits. Sir Tim – an old Foreign Office hand – has a long record of working with the EU, focussing on areas of security and defence policy. While Sir Ivan contributed to the failure of Cameron’s renegotiation project, Sir Tim is credited with helping thwart Brussels plans for an EU army.
Sir Tim’s background in security and defence, and the fact he has served as Ambassador to Russia, gives him a specific focus on issues where the EU is particularly reliant on co-operation with Britain.
The United Kingdom has the second largest military in NATO, and is one of the few NATO states which pays the recommended 2 percent of GDP on defence – as a result, EU Member States will be eager to retain access to British strength and expertise in security and defence after Brexit.
With Sir Tim as our Ambassador to the EU, this is a card the Government will be able to play to its fullest potential during Brexit negotiations.
As far as we at Get Britain Out are concerned, the change in our representation in Brussels this week is, therefore, good news for Brexit.
Theresa May has acted decisively to replace the pessimistic Sir Ivan with someone more suited to the task. Barrow is renowned for his ‘can-do’ attitude and his ability to actually get things done.
We now have a man in Brussels – in charge for the entire Article 50 period – who can and will use our negotiating strengths to their fullest potential.
The chances of Britain honouring the Referendum mandate and getting the best possible deal from Brexit have definitely improved.