Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Sic transit Sir Ivan Rogers

It sounds to me that Sir Ivan Rogers, who has resigned as British Ambassador to the EU, is a very able diplomat and experienced negotiator but wanted HMG to go for a soft Brexit. Better that he goes.

We see here the limitations of experts and the importance of politics. Unclever politicians are needed to direct experts (and most politicians, like Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn, Hillary Clinton, etc. are not clever at all). Donald Trump is very clever but not in a civil servant way.

I wondered if Sir Ivan leaked his prediction that leaving Brexit would take ten years. If so he certainly deserved to be pushed out, but it seems that he blames No 10.

If No 10 is to blame then he has been treated very badly. Diplomats and civil servants are ceasing to be the non political figures they should be - but this is old news.

Last year, when David Cameron was trying and failing to renegotiate the terms of Britain’s EU membership before last June’s referendum, Mr. Cameron's political advisers saw Sir Ivan as an obstacle. According to Tim Shipman's account of the Brexit campaign.

“They were status quo. They were happy to take 'no’ for an answer, happy to believe things weren’t possible, when they could be possible.”

Yet, interestingly, Sir Ivan was said to be one of the few British diplomats in Brussels who consistently said in private that Brexit was a serious possibility.

Today's Daily Telegraph makes it clear that Sir Ivan was clearly a Remainer. To be fair to him, I suppose every British diplomat was. But it is better that he has not stood upon the order of his going.

“He could be infuriating,” wrote Daniel Korski, the deputy director of the policy unit in David Cameron’s government, “but he was right on many of the big issues, including that what the Conservative Party was asking for was not something that European leaders would ever agree to provide.”
In private, Sir Ivan could be eye-rollingly scathing of the slow-wittedness of the politicians he served, but equally scathing – as Mr Korski noted – of EU officials and leaders who “hadn’t understood they were heading for a fall”.
“Ivan’s scorn for the Right of the Tory Party seemed only rivalled by his hatred of the European leaders,” said Mr Korski. Another Brussels colleague also pointed out that Sir Ivan himself was never under any illusion – as some in the Cameron administration appeared to be – that winning the June EU referendum would be easy."

1 comment:

  1. I know nothing of IR who appears to have revealed (what we all suspected) the current lack of an adequate Brexit plan. Devout Brexiteers appear to think that the UK doesn’t really need one, and all the traditional diplomatic manoeuvres involved: simply a list of demands which if they are not met (as they wouldn’t be, of course) would result in no EU/UK trade deal at all. Immigration control seems to be the altar on which everything must be sacrificed.