Oliver Robbins, the permanent secretary at the Department for Exiting the European Union, is to move to a new post to coordinate the government’s Brexit policy from the Cabinet Office, it has been announced.
In a shock move, Robbins has been appointed by prime minister Theresa May as the EU adviser in the Cabinet Office, and he will continue to lead the team of Whitehall officials negotiating the UK’s exit from the EU in his role as sherpa.
A statement from DExEU confirmed the move, which it said was intended to “strengthen cross government co-ordination of the next phase of negotiations with the European Union”.
The department added: “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 coordinate relations with the commission and member states.”
Robbins has held the post since the department was created in July last year to lead the UK’s negotiations with the European Union. It is understood that Robbins, who worked with May next at the Home Office, will work to improve cross-government coordination on Brexit in the new role from 1 October. Robbins will part in the fourth round of Brexit talks alongside DExEU secretary David Davis next week.
It has also been confirmed that Philip Rycroft, who joined DExEU as second permanent secretary in April with responsibility to manage the overall policy and legislative agenda at the department, will now move up to perm sec.
The DExEU statement said 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 assisting Davis in 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, the EU27 and beyond.