Sir Tim Barrow has been appointed Britain’s EU ambassador after the shock resignation of Sir Ivan Rogers.
Rogers stood down on Tuesday just weeks before Brexit negotiations are due to begin, criticising the Government’s “muddled thinking” in his resignation letter and triggering attackers from Brexiteers.
Ex-minister Denis MacShane interpreted the appointment of another career diplomat as a sign the Foreign Office was retaining control of the imminent negotiations, following fierce criticism of the Civil Service after Rogers resigned.
“Good to see that the government have replaced a knighted career diplomat with... a knighted career diplomat,” he said.
The Government unveiled Barrow as Rogers’ replacement after 24 hours of fighting between Brexiters and Remainers, with Iain Duncan Smith saying Rogers could not be trusted and an ex-Foreign Office minister called the attacks on the diplomat “nonsense”.
The Daily Telegraph quoted ministers saying Barrow was a “pragmatic problem solver”, in contrast to his “pessimist” predecessor.
Barrow served as Britain’s ambassador to the Ukraine from 2006 to 2008. He was the ambassador to Russia from 2011 to 2015, a testing time that included Russia’s unilateral annexation of the Crimea.
Former diplomat Charles Crawford told LBC Barrow would be “fearless” and was an “excellent choice.”
Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said the job was “made harder by our government and the disgraceful attacks by leading Brexiteers on the impartiality of the Civil Service”.
He said: “The new ambassador can be at his most diplomatic but without a plan from this government on where it stands on the big issues, such as Britain’s membership of the single market, then it is an impossible task.”
Downing Street called Barrow a “seasoned and tough negotiator” who had “extensive experience of securing UK objectives in Brussels”.
Brexit Secretary David Davis said Barrow would “be able to hit the ground running at a vital time”.
He added: “I am confident that with his help, the UK will be able to forge a new relationship with the EU that works to the mutual benefit of both sides
Former Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander called him a “good man and a great diplomat”.
“Let’s hope he’s given the trust, support and direction he’ll need to do the job effectively,” he added.