LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s post-Brexit negotiations with the European Union will be conducted by a team of 40 officials known as “Taskforce Europe” who will report to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, his spokesman said on Monday.
Britain leaves the EU at 2300 GMT on Friday, entering a transition phase during which existing rules will continue to apply while a new long-term relationship is negotiated. The talks on a new deal are expected to begin in March, with Britain promising it will be in place by the end of the year.
The taskforce will be led by David Frost, a diplomat and one-time business lobbyist who was appointed as Johnson’s Europe adviser last year and went on to lead day-to-day negotiations in Brussels on an exit agreement which was signed off last week.
Frost would most likely negotiate directly with the EU’s Michel Barnier, the spokesman said.
Frost’s team will include senior representatives from Britain’s finance ministry and foreign office, and work with other departments on specific policies.
The government’s Brexit department, created in 2016 after Britain voted in a referendum to leave the EU, will be disbanded on Friday.
The foreign ministry will assume control of diplomatic engagements around the negotiations, while the cabinet office will be in charge of implementing the withdrawal deal and preparing the country for when a new agreement comes into force.
(Reporting by William James)