Top Brexit official Oliver Robbins quits 'over differences with David Davis'

The top official in the UK government’s Brexit department has quit his position, it has been reported.

The Evening Standard said Oliver Robbins, the head of the Department for Exiting the European Union, has stepped down because of tensions with Brexit minister David Davis.

He is set to take up a new co-ordinating role in prime minister Theresa May’s Downing Street office, the newspaper said.

The move may be seen as an attempt by the prime minister to take a more prominent role in shaping the talks, before her major Brexit speech on Friday in Florence, Italy.


Philip Rycroft has been appointed as Mr Robbins’ replacement as permanent secretary at Mr Davis’s Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU).

The move follows reports of a rift between Mr Robbins and Mr Davis, who have led negotiations in Brussels.

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Mr Robbins was second permanent secretary at the Home Office for a year during Mrs May’s stint as home secretary.

Confirming his move, the Government spokesman said: ‘In order to strengthen cross-Government co-ordination of the next phase of negotiations with the European Union, the Prime Minister has appointed Oliver Robbins as her EU Adviser in the Cabinet Office, in addition to his role as EU Sherpa.

It was reported that Oliver Robbins did not see eye-to-eye with Brexit minister David Davis, pictured (Picture: Rex)

‘He will continue to lead the official-side UK team in the negotiations, working closely with the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, and co-ordinate relations with the Commission and member states.

‘The Prime Minister has appointed Philip Rycroft, currently Second Permanent Secretary at the Department for Exiting the EU and Cabinet Office, as Permanent Secretary, Department for Exiting the EU.

‘The department will continue to support David Davis, the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, to ensure a smooth exit and to seize the opportunities presented by leaving the EU.

‘This will include his role as principal of the negotiations, leading on exit-related legislation, domestic preparedness for exit and engagement with stakeholders in the UK, including the devolved administrations, and in the EU27 and beyond.’