Oliver Robbins left his role as Permanent Secretary for the Department for Exiting the EU in September 2017 to become EU Adviser in the Cabinet Office and EU Sherpa. The Department said the aim of the move was to “strengthen cross-government co-ordination of the next phase of negotiations with the European Union”.
Previously, Robbins held a dual role both as the top civil servant at DexEU and Theresa May’s leading Brexit advisor. This was thought to cause tension between him and Brexit Secretary David Davis, who felt cut out of the loop by Robbins’ direct connection to the Prime Minister.
Robbins will continue to lead the official-side UK team in the negotiations, working closely with David Davis, and coordinate relations with the Commission and Member States.
A well-known face within the Civil Service, he originally joined as a graduate entrant in 1996 and has spent time in HM Treasury and Downing Street. Robbins was also Director General, Civil Service from January 2014 to September 2015, and Deputy National Security Adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron. Prior to his latest appointment, Robbins was Second Permanent Secretary for Borders, Immigration and Citizenship at Theresa May’s Home Office.
Robbins is a highly experience Civil Servant, with government and international negotiating experience that makes him suited to the challenging tasks ahead. However, in 2016 Robbins made headlines for being thrown out of a Home Affairs Select Committee for giving “unsatisfactory” answers to questions regarding the UK Border Force’s budget. The Select Committee was questioning him due to Labour’s Andy Burnham accusing the Government of hiding cuts, which, if true, casts a shadow on his reputation and has implications for the deal the UK will get for free movement of people.
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