The UK’s top diplomat to the EU has resigned.
The abrupt departure of Sir Ivan Rogers comes just a few months before Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to start formal Brexit negotiations.
Rogers, appointed by former Prime Minister David Cameron as the UK’s permanent representative to the EU, the equivalent of ambassador, in November 2013.
He is one of the UK’s most experienced diplomats on EU affairs.
He told staff on Tuesday afternoon that he would be stepping down early from his post.
Theresa May has said she will trigger formal Brexit talks with the rest of the EU by the end of March.
There has been no comment so far from Downing Street and the UK Foreign Office.
Sir Ivan Rogers statement pic.twitter.com/X9nodmUnM8— Bruno Waterfield (@BrunoBrussels) January 3, 2017
Sir Ivan, who was due to step down in November 2017, has not yet given his reasons for his sudden decision.
However, there was an outcry last month when a leaked memo revealed he had privately told ministers that any post-Brexit UK-EU trade deal might take up to ten years to finalise.
How long will it really take to negotiate a post-Brexit trade deal? Find out here
POLITICO Europe (@POLITICOEurope) January 3, 2017
Ivan Rogers resigns as U.K.’s ambassador to EU https://t.co/MjnQPV7VPB— WSJ Europe (@WSJeurope) January 3, 2017
Ivan Rogers' resignation makes a good deal on Brexit less likely. One of the v few people at top of Brit govt who understand EU.
CER_London</a></p>— Charles Grant (CER_Grant) January 3, 2017
In any negotiation you need to understand the people on the other side of the table. Ivan Rogers knew the EU better than most in London.— Chris Morris (@BBCChrisMorris) January 3, 2017
I welcome the resignation of UK ambassador to Brussels, Ivan Rogers. The Foreign Office needs a complete clear out.— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) January 3, 2017