The Brexit department’s top civil servant has announced his early retirement – just 22 days before the UK is set to leave the EU.
Philip Rycroft has served as permanent secretary at the Department for Exiting the EU since October 2017 and will leave at the end of March.
As March 29, the day of Brexit, is the final working day of the month this appears to be his last day.
Rycroft had joined DExEU as second permanent secretary in 2016 shortly after the EU referendum and will be replaced at the department by Clare Moriarty, currently top civil servant at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Theresa May’s official spokesman said the prime minister ‘thanks Philip Rycroft for all his service’.
The 57-year-old mandarin previously served as head of the Cabinet Office UK governance group from 2015-16 and was director general of deputy prime minister Nick Clegg’s office from 2012-15.
Announcing his departure, cabinet secretary Sir Mark Sedwill said he had demonstrated ‘exceptional leadership’ at DExEU.
He said that Moriarty has ‘a deep understanding of the practical and policy challenges and opportunities of Brexit’.
Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay said: ‘I would like to thank Philip Rycroft for his excellent leadership of the department, initially as second permanent secretary and subsequently as head of the department since October 2017.
‘Under Philip’s guidance, the department has been at the heart of the Government’s preparations for a smooth and orderly exit from the European Union, and to deliver the mandate of the people.
‘I’m also delighted to welcome Clare Moriarty to the department. She brings with her a wealth of experience and is extremely well qualified to take up the challenges of the next phase of exit preparations.’
Moriarty said: ‘It’s an honour to be asked to lead the Department for Exiting the European Union at such an important time for the UK.
‘We have a massive agenda ahead of us and I look forward to working with Stephen Barclay and the excellent team in DExEU to chart the way forward.’
Tamara Finkelstein is to serve as interim permanent secretary at Defra.