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Theresa May's top Brexit negotiator to join Goldman Sachs

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
Olly Robbins was Europe adviser to former prime minister Theresa May. Photo: Peter Nicholls/Reuters

One of Britain’s top Brexit negotiators is set to join Goldman Sachs after a year sabbatical.

Olly Robbins, Theresa May’s Europe Adviser and chief Brexit negotiator, will join the investment bank in 2020 as a managing director covering UK corporates.

Multiple outlets reported the move late on Monday. Sky News first reported the appointment.

The Cabinet Office confirmed the appointment and said the move was approved by the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, which screens politicians and policymaker’s post-government jobs.

Robbins, 44, was May’s top Brexit adviser and is credited with negotiating the so-called Chequers deal that has proved unpopular with Brexiteers.

Robbins became a lightning rod for criticism due to what many Brexiteers saw as his pro-EU influence over the negotiations. Last month, Brexit party leader Nigel Farage dismissed leaked documents on no-deal Brexit preparations “an Olly Robbins special” and “fear-mongering.”

Oxford-educated Robbins is a life-long civil servant and has served under four different prime ministers.

The hire by Goldman Sachs extends the investment bank’s reputation for enjoying a cosy relationship with governments. The bank’s chairman in London José Manuel Barroso, is the former prime minister of Portugal and president of the European Commission from 2004 to 2014.

In the US, the bank has been nicknamed “Government Sachs” due to its close links with policymakers. The most high profile recent example was Gary Cohn, who quit as chief operating officer of the bank to become Donald Trump’s National Economic Council director.

In a public statement, the Cabinet Office said Robbins would first take up a position at Oxford University before joining Goldman Sachs.

Robbins will become the first ever Heywood Fellow, a new position established at the university in honour of former Cabinet secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood. Robbins will explore “issues relating to public service and policy” in the position.

Boris Johnson said in a statement: “I am delighted that Olly will be the first Permanent Secretary to take up this Fellowship in Jeremy Heywood’s memory, which follows his many years of dedication to public service in a variety of different roles.”

Robbins said: “It is an enormous privilege to be given the opportunity to reflect on some of the challenges the Civil Service faces, as the first Heywood Fellow.”

Separately on Tuesday, it was announced that Robbins will be awarded a KCMG for public service as part of Theresa May’s resignation honours list.

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Oscar Williams-Grut covers banking, fintech, and finance for Yahoo Finance UK. Follow him on Twitter at @OscarWGrut.

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