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Britain's EU envoy quits as talks over Brexit loom

By Shaun Connolly

The UK's ambassador to the European Union, Sir Ivan Rogers, has resigned just months before tough Brexit negotiations are expected to begin.

The move comes after Sir Ivan, who was set to remain in the post until November, provoked controversy when he privately warned the Government that a post-Brexit trade deal could take a decade to finalise.

Sir Ivan told ministers last October that other EU members believe a trade deal with the UK may not be hammered out until the early to mid-2020s. He also said European leaders believe the Brexit deal is likely to be a free trade arrangement rather than continued single market membership.

Sir Ivan's warnings relating to the potential timeframe for a Brexit trade deal are believed to have caused relations to strain with some members of the Government, and his advice prompted some pro-Leave Tory MPs to label him a "gloomy pessimist".

A Government spokesman said: "Sir Ivan has taken this decision now to enable a successor to be appointed before the UK invokes Article 50 by the end of March. We are grateful for his work and commitment over the last three years."

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