The UK’s top diplomat in Brussels, Sir Ivan Rogers, has resigned.
Sir Ivan, who was appointed to the role of permanent representative by David Cameron in 2013, had been expected to play a key role in Brexit talks expected to start within months.
The Foreign Office said it would not give reasons for Mr Rogers’ departure at the moment.
Last month the BBC revealed he had privately told ministers a UK-EU trade deal might take 10 years to finalise.
He told them this was also the view of the other 27 member states.
BBC Brussels correspondent Kevin Connolly said it appeared there had been “some failure of synchronicity” between Sir Ivan and the UK government.
Sir Ivan was due to leave his post in November but is stepping down early, the Financial Times reported.
Labour MP Hilary Benn, who chairs the Brexit select committee, said Sir Ivan’s resignation had come at a “crucial” time and urged the government to “get its skates on” in finding a replacement.
Prime Minister Theresa May says she will trigger formal talks between the UK and the EU by the end of March.
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