Sir Ivan Rogers: Brexit talks to be on humongous scale

Sir Ivan Rogers: Brexit talks to be on humongous scale

Sir Ivan Rogers: Brexit talks to be on humongous scaleSir Ivan Rogers: Brexit talks to be on humongous scale

Rogers : Brexit talks be on a “humongous scale” involving “difficult trade-offs”, the UK’s former EU ambassador says.

Sir Ivan Rogers predicted that after the current “phoney war period” there would be an “extremely feisty atmosphere” with much of the talks “to be conducted very publicly”.

He also said European leaders expected a UK-EU trade deal would not be ratified until the early to mid 2020s.

Sir Ivan, who had been due to leave his post in October, resigned last month.

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In December he attracted criticism from some MPs when his warning to ministers that the European consensus was that a deal might not be done until the early to mid-2020s was revealed by the BBC.

Giving evidence to the Commons European Scrutiny Committee, he said this had come from a briefing he had written for Prime Minister Theresa May in October, based on the views of key figures in the EU and the remaining member states.

He said he did not know how it became public.

The government says it can conclude all separation negotiations, including a new free trade deal, within two years, having given notice of the UK’s departure from the EU by the end of March.

Asked about the anticipated timescale, Sir Ivan said a comprehensive free trade agreement such as the one Mrs May was seeking would be the most comprehensive ever negotiated by the EU, and previous agreements have taken “an awful lot of time”.

He said he believed an agreement with the UK could be concluded more quickly, but said the Brexit negotiation would be “unprecedentedly large” covering “huge tracts of Whitehall”.

“It’s a negotiation on the scale that we haven’t experienced ever, certainly not since the Second World War.”

Sir Ivan told MPs the 27 remaining EU states would spend “an awful lot of time debating with each other” before negotiating with the UK, agreeing a common position.

Asked how confidential the negotiations would be, he said: “I think an awful lot will leak, Brussels is very leaky…stuff will get out, and incessantly in my view.”

He added: “Expect an awful lot of this negotiation to be conducted very publicly.”

Sir Ivan has been replaced by Sir Tim Barrow, a former UK ambassador to Russia.

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