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05.01.17

Civil Service integrity not being defended as EU ambassador resigns

The FDA has urged government ministers to take to the airwaves to defend the integrity and impartiality of the Civil Service following criticism of the UK’s outgoing EU ambassador.

Dave Penman, the union’s general secretary, made the comment following the sudden resignation of Sir Ivan Rogers, the head of UK Representation to the EU (UKRep), on Tuesday.

In his resignation e-mail to UKRep staff, Sir Ivan attacked “muddled thinking” over Brexit and stated that the government will only achieve the best outcome if it “harnesses the best experience” it has and listens to advice on the views of the other EU member states “even where this is uncomfortable”.

Penman, who leads the union for senior managers and professionals in the public service, agreed, saying: “If the Civil Service is to deliver a successful Brexit negotiation, the recipe for that success is unlikely to be to starve it of resources, lack clarity of objective and be surrounded with yes men and women who will not speak truth unto power.

“It doesn't surprise me that some politicians are calling for pro-Brexit civil servants to be appointed, what surprises me is the deafening silence from ministers who should be taking to the airwaves to defend the integrity and capability of the impartial civil service.”

Following Sir Ivan’s resignation, Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative minister and Leave campaigner, accused him of “sour grapes”, being involved in leaks to the media and thinking he was “more important than perhaps he really is”.

Nigel Farage, the former UKIP leader, said he believed “a lot more” ambassadors should resign and prime minister Theresa May should appoint “a firm Brexiteer” as Rogers’ replacement.

Penman said May was sitting back while officials were being “pilloried” by a succession of former ministers.

In what was seen as a rejection of the calls to appoint a Brexiteer, Sir Tim Barrow, was announced yesterday as Sir Ivan’s successor.

Sir Tim, a former UK ambassador to Russia, UK representative to the Political and Security Committee of the European Union and ambassador to the Western European Union, said: “I am honoured to be appointed as the UK’s Permanent Representative to the EU at this crucial time.

“I look forward to joining the strong leadership team at the Department for Exiting the EU and working with them and the talented staff at UKRep to ensure we get the right outcome for the United Kingdom as we leave the EU.”

A Downing Street spokesperson added that Sir Tim was “a seasoned and tough negotiator” who would “work alongside other senior officials and ministers to make a success of Brexit”.

(Image c. Daniel Leal-Olivas from PA Wire and Press Association Images)

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