UK's new EU ambassador is a veteran diplomat chosen to bring toughness and experience but also to calm civil servants restive over London's cryptic Brexit strategy, former colleagues and experts said Thursday.
Tim Barrow, the man charged with ironing out the path to Brexit, has handled UK's rocky relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the past six years as the ambassador to Moscow. He is also an old hand in the corridors of Brussels, having done two stints in the mission he now heads, and spent years in key Europe roles in the Foreign Office.
British civil servants are reportedly frustrated by a lack of clarity from Prime Minister Theresa May's government, as she prepares to trigger two years of EU exit negotiations within the next three months.
Barrow, as London's permanent representative to the EU, will play a key role in thrashing out Britain's future relations with the bloc. Tom Fletcher, a former British ambassador to Lebanon and ex-foreign policy adviser to three prime ministers, said "It's the toughest negotiation in our lifetimes and I think he is up to it."
Before becoming the ambassador to Russia, Barrow was at UK's EU embassy in Brussels as the UK representative to the bloc's political and security committee and ambassador to the Western EU from 2008 to 2011.
A European diplomatic source in Brussels told that Barrow getting the job was a victory for the Foreign Office. "We have someone who knows Brussels and knows diplomacy. However, it is not certain that he is up to speed with the technical subjects to be dealt with," having been noted as a Russia expert.
The Financial Times newspaper said his appointment would calm nerves in the London ministries and his appointment marked a return to "more traditional diplomatic leadership".
The main opposition Labour Party welcomed the appointment but said fundamental questions remained unanswered on May's Brexit strategy.
The anti-EU UK Independence Party's Brexit spokesman Gerard Batten said, "This appointment is a disappointment because the last thing we need is another career diplomat wearing a Brussels jersey."