Is London unprepared for Brexit?

Britain's permanent representative to the EU, Sir Ivan Rogers, has resigned from office, expressing sharp criticism of his government. In a mail to his colleagues he accused London of lacking the necessary negotiating expertise. The official reason for his resignation was to give his successor time to assume office before the Brexit negotiations begin. For observers the diplomat's resignation exposes the many weaknesses of the Brexit camp.

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The Irish Times (IE) /

Shooting the messenger

Rogers has fallen victim to the Brexit camp's refusal to recognise reality, the Irish Times concludes:

“May’s problem is that her ministers and the Brexiteers have proved unable yet to move beyond campaign rhetoric and illusions, to the hard practicalities of negotiation mode when what matters is not what should be done but what can be done. We are still in 'shoot the messenger' mode, still not ready to read or understand the message. Rogers’s resignation is a serious self-inflicted wound that even Brexit supporters will rue as they scramble to find a replacement.”

Handelsblatt (DE) /

Decline of the world's oldest democracy

The resignation of the UK's ambassador to the EU highlights the state of disarray in the British government, according to the Handelsblatt:

“Sir Ivan Rogers was known to be an EU connoisseur with a broad network of contacts in Brussels institutions and across the Continent. Despite years of aggressive anti-European campaigns in his home country and even after the Brexit vote on June 23 he still managed to maintain good relations with the rest of the EU on her majesty's service. With his departure the United Kingdom loses an important bridge-builder in Brussels. The government clearly wasn't even prepared for this. It hasn't been able to come up with a successor so far at any rate. Disorganised, divided and at odds with leading EU experts in its own ranks, the world's oldest democracy is increasingly losing its lustre.”

Dagens Nyheter (SE) /

No one thought Brexit through

The British government is taking a very amatuerish approach to Brexit, Dagens Nyheter concurs:

“The problem is that Brexit is very complex in terms of procedures and policy. More than forty years of joint projects, laws and regulations need to be reviewed. How, for example, should the 2.8 million EU citizens who live in Britain be treated, or the 1.2 million British who live in other EU countries? Or their children? It is also obvious that positions regarded as shrewd in London are not exactly seen as the ultimate wisdom in the rest of the EU. The Brexit advocates pretended during the referendum campaign that the country would be able to choose freely from a menu of options, keeping all the advantages of EU membership and throwing out all the things that it doesn’t like. The government takes a similar view, but the other twenty-seven members won’t accept that.”

Die Presse (AT) /

London's denial of reality will hurt the EU

The London government’s dilettantish approach to Brexit threatens to have repercussions for the whole EU, Die Presse fears, following the resignation of the British ambassador in Brussels:

“It may have been part of the political game during the referendum campaign for the pro-Brexit camp to highlight all the advantages of going it alone. But now it's high time for Britain to start discussing openly the complexity of the island's legal and economic ties with its EU partners. From trade to financial services to cooperation between universities, Britain is firmly integrated in the community. Tearing itself free will not only take time but will also require sacrifices. ... If the government under Theresa May continues to handle Brexit in such a dilettantish fashion, the whole EU will suffer. There are strong interests in continuing to have a good and dynamic partnership with London. But that will require a plan, a willingness to compromise and above all a sense of reality.”

The Guardian (GB) /

A setback for May's Brexit plans

The surprise resignation of Britain's ambassador to the EU, Sir Ivan Rogers, weakens the country's position in the Brexit negotiations and is a major setback for Theresa May's Brexit strategy, the Guardian contends:

“He was widely regarded as having the right experience, deft touch and nous to navigate the shoals and shifting currents of continental politics that would buffet the British ship of state as it left its European berth. In going early Sir Ivan will have not helped Theresa May with her Brexit plans. … Bizarrely the appointment of Sir Ivan’s replacement will tell us more about the kind of politics, diplomacy and trade that Britain will seek in the negotiations with the EU than Mrs May’s gnomic utterances. ... The message that Downing Street will send with the appointment of Britain’s person in Brussels will be critical: not just to Whitehall but to the rest of Europe as well.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

A chance for a fresh approach

A Brexit supporter in office will be better positioned than the pro-European Ivan Rogers when the negotiations to leave the EU begin in the spring, the Daily Telegraph argues, welcoming Rogers' resignation:

“He is steeped in the culture of an institution from which the country seeks to extricate itself. ... Of course he knows his way around Brussels better than most. But while that might have been useful when we were intending to stay in, it is less so now we have decided to leave. As the ultimate insider, Sir Ivan had decades of exposure to the Brussels groupthink which holds that the UK is (a) mad and (b) must suffer for having the temerity to exercise its democratic right to leave the EU. ... There is far too much gloom around Brexit. Theresa May can help lift it by sending a replacement to Brussels who will speak up for Britain and its excellent prospects outside the EU.”