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UK to appoint national security adviser as ambassador to US

UK to appoint national security adviser as ambassador to US


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The British government is preparing to announce that national security adviser Sir Tim Barrow will be the next ambassador to the US, sparking threats that Labor could overturn the appointment.

Sources familiar with the matter said an announcement that Barrow would replace the current ambassador, Dame Karen Pierce, could come as early as this week.

He added that he is not expected to take up the position until December this year or January 2025, when both the British general election and the US presidential election have been held.

The plan sparked outrage from Sir Keir Starmus' opposition Labor party, with officials insisting the next British government should appoint Britain's most senior diplomat.

A Labor official said the Conservatives were once again putting party interests ahead of the national interest by unnecessarily rushing to make important diplomatic commitments ahead of the UK and US elections.

Labor, which is on average 20 points ahead of the Conservatives in opinion polls, could override the decision if Starmer enters Downing Street and elect its preferred candidate to Washington, they warned.

If Labor is given the privilege of forming the next government, we will naturally reserve the right to revisit senior diplomatic appointments made ahead of the general election, the official said.

Barrows' appointment will create another vacancy – the Prime Minister's national security adviser – a key position in government that the current Conservative administration could fill.

Barrow began her Foreign Office career in 1986, becoming the department's second permanent secretary and political director before becoming national security adviser to Liz Truss, now Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

He is also the UK Sherpa for the G7 and G20, representing the UK in these multilateral forums. Barrow previously served in Moscow and was appointed Britain's ambassador to the EU in 2017 after Britons voted to leave the bloc in an EU referendum a year earlier.

Barrow was sent to Brussels and played a key role in Brexit negotiations after his predecessor was ousted by Prime Minister Theresa May.

In Brussels in 2017, Tim Barrow (left) is delivering former British Prime Minister Theresa Mays' Brexit letter announcing the UK's intention to leave to then-European Council President Donald Tusk (right). Yves Herman/Reuters

The Financial Times first reported in February that Barrow was a strong candidate for Britain's ambassador to the United States, with government officials citing Deputy Foreign Secretary Philip Barton and Deputy Home Secretary Matthew Rycroft as other leading contenders.

A former British ambassador to the United States said: Given the sensitivities of the Washington Post and the approaching UK elections, it may have made sense to take the decision together with the Leader of the Opposition Office to avoid conflict.

But the former diplomat added that although Barrow does not have extensive experience in the United States, as a career civil servant, a technocratic rather than political appointment would not be a controversial choice.

Alex Thomas, program director at the think tank Institute of Government, defended the government's right to appoint.

This post is pretty well documented in the dictionary and often refers to uprooting one's family for partly personal reasons. They will want to have someone lined up who can build relationships with both the Biden and Trump teams before the inauguration next January.

He added: There is no provision to keep these appointments open for the next government to fill.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office Development Directorate said: Future ambassadorial appointments will be confirmed by the FCDO in the usual way.




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