Top UK Ambassadors in major reshuffle

The shake-up of senior UK envoys – which will see changes at the top in missions in Brussels, Paris and Washington – are a clear reflection of David Cameron’s priorities.

Brussels: Jon Cunliffe

Most notable in the reshuffle is the Prime Minister’s choice of Sir Jon Cunliffe, a top Treasury official, who will represent Britain in Brussels rather than a diplomat from the Foreign Office.

Sir Jon has been the Prime Minister’s Adviser on Europe and Global Issues and the UK’s G20 and G8 Sherpa since July 2007. Prior to that, he was Second Permanent Secretary at the Treasury, responsible for the Treasury’s EU and international business and macroeconomic policy. He was reportedly close to former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and is credited as the man who kept Britain out of the euro.

Sir Jon is a details man and tough negotiator who is likely to play hardball in EU budget talks, which have begun in earnest following the publication of the European Commission’s budget plans for 2014-20. The Prime Minister has already hinted that Sir Jon will argue for a real-terms freeze in the EU budget over the next seven years as well as cuts to the Common Agricultural Policy and the retention of the British rebate.

London: Kim Darroch

Coming in the other direction from Brussels is Sir Kim Darroch, Britain’s current EU permanent representative who will take over the job of National Security Adviser. His previous role was EU Adviser to Prime Minister Tony Blair and he headed the Foreign Office Balkans Department during the break-up of Yugoslavia.

He has also worked as Head of News at the FCO before becoming Europe Director in mid-2000, and Europe Director General in 2003.

Paris: Peter Ricketts

Sir Kim will succeed Sir Peter Ricketts, the former Permanent Under Secretary and one-time permanent representative to Nato, who will take over as Britain’s Man in Paris in January. It is believed he took on the role of establishing the National Security Council for a limited period in exchange for the posting in Paris.

Sir Peter is said to have played a key role in shifting the government’s approach to Afghanistan, with Cameron publicly suggesting British troops should be out by 2015. He will be taking over from Sir Peter Westmacott, who moves to Washington.

Washington: Peter Westmacott

Sir Peter Westmacott was previously Ambassador to Turkey in 2002 and FCO Deputy Under Secretary from 2000. Earlier in his career, from 1993 to 1997, he was Counsellor for Political and Public Affairs in Washington, before returning to the Foreign Office as Director, Americas. From 1990 to 1993, he was Deputy Private Secretary to HRH The Prince of Wales. He succeeds Sir Nigel Sheinwald, who is retiring from the diplomatic service.
Notably absent in the reshuffle is Britain’s former Ambassador to Kabul and Afghanistan Special Envoy, Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, who retired from the diplomatic service last year when he was not offered a top post. It’s thought the plain-speaking diplomat botched his chances of a crack at UK Ambassador to the US having ruffled feathers in Washington.