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New UK ambassador to the EU, Sir Tim Barrow, inherits demoralised and depleted team and faces daunting task

Sir Tim Barrow, Britain’s new permanent representative in Brussels, faces the daunting task of stopping what colleagues and critics suspect is a tumble towards a disorderly exit from the European Union. Where once the choice was between hard and soft Brexit, the new worry in diplomatic and business circles is that the UK is heading for “train crash” Brexit, a scenario in which incompatible negotiating demands from Downing Street and the other 27 member states result in Britain walking away without a deal on either the terms of separation or future trading relations with the EU. That was the concern of Barrow’s predecessor, Sir Ivan Rogers, who wrote to the 120 staff at the UK’s imposing office block at 10 Avenue d’Auderghem to warn them of “muddled thinking” back in London. “Contrary to the beliefs of some, free trade does not just happen,” concluded one of the most stinging resignation letters in Foreign Office history.

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