Oliver Robbins has been made Permanent Secretary for the Department for Exiting the EU, meaning he will be responsible for supporting EU negotiations and establishing the relationship between the UK and the EU. As Permanent Secretary he will provide the most senior support to ministers and the wider European and Global Issues Secretariat.
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, an apparent sign that Oliver Letwin – the ‘Brexit Minister’ of the new unit in the Cabinet Office – is going to prioritise free movement of people in the negotiations process.
Robbins is a highly experience Civil Servant, with government and international negotiating experience that makes him suited to the challenging tasks ahead. However, earlier this year 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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