Press release

Permanent Secretary appointed to lead the new EU unit in Cabinet Office

Oliver Robbins has been appointed as the head of the new EU Unit in the Cabinet Office.


Oliver will have responsibility for supporting Cabinet in the examination of options for our future relationship outside the EU, with Europe, and the rest of the world as well as responsibility for the wider European and Global Issues Secretariat.

The unit will also draw on the very best talent from across the Civil Service as the Prime Minister set out on Monday.

This is a Permanent Secretary role and follows Tom Scholar’s move to become Permanent Secretary at the Treasury. Oliver will move across from his current role as Second Permanent Secretary at the Home Office on 4 July and his current post at the Home Office will be filled in due course.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

The next Prime Minister and their Cabinet should have all the information they need with which to determine exactly the right approach to take and the right outcome to negotiate Britain leaving the EU.

The new EU unit in Whitehall, led by a new Permanent Secretary Oliver Robbins, will examine all the options and possibilities in a neutral way and set out costs and benefits to enable the right decisions to be made.

The Cabinet Secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, said:

I am delighted to announce that Olly Robbins has agreed to take on this crucial role. He has a wealth of government, international and negotiating experience that makes him ideally suited to this very challenging role.

I have every confidence that he will offer the very best advice and support to the government through these unprecedented times to ensure we secure the best possible deal for the UK.

Oliver Robbins said:

It has been a privilege to work at the Home Office and guide the work of the border and immigration services. This is vital work and my Home Office colleagues should be very proud of what they do.

Nonetheless it is a huge responsibility to support the Cabinet in thinking through the issues arising from last week’s referendum outcome, and I look forward to working closely with Oliver Letwin, Sir Jeremy Heywood and other colleagues in the Cabinet Office and around government as we tackle the big issues ahead.

Mark Sedwill, Permanent Secretary at the Home Office, said:

As the Prime Minister set out on Monday, making a success of the nation’s decision to leave the EU will require the brightest and best from across the Civil Service.

So I can think of no better person to lead this work than Oliver Robbins, who, in the past year as Second Permanent Secretary for borders, immigration and citizenship, has made such a positive impact in the department, and developed considerable expertise in many of the issues central to negotiating British withdrawal and establishing a new position in the world.

I should like to thank Oliver for everything that he has done here at the Home Office and I wish him well in the critical work that lies ahead.

Notes to editors

About Oliver Robbins

Oliver is currently Second Permanent Secretary at the Home Office. Oliver has had a long Civil Service career spanning HM Treasury, Downing Street and the main board of an operational agency. From January 2014 to September 2015 he was Director General at the Civil Service, leading on Civil Service reform. Prior to this, he was Deputy National Security Adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron and the UK’s National Security Council.

Published 29 June 2016