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Saturday, June 25, 2016

UK's European commissioner quits in wake of Brexit vote

Britain's European Commissioner has announced he will stand down from his post in the wake of Thursday's referendum vote to leave the EU.
Lord Hill of Oareford said he was 'very disappointed' by the outcome of the vote and was convinced UK membership was 'good for our place in the world and good for our economy'.
He will continue his work as commissioner for financial stability until July 15 to allow for the 'orderly handover' of his responsibilities to commission vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis of Latvia.
In a statement, commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said the UK remains entitled to a seat on the commission while it is a member of the EU, and made clear he was ready for 'swift' discussions with Prime Minister David Cameron on a replacement.
Mr Juncker said he had decided to hand the financial stability brief to Britain in 2014 'as a sign of my confidence in the United Kingdom's membership of the European Union', adding: 'To my great regret, this situation is now changing.'
He said: 'I have tried to convince Lord Hill to stay on as Commissioner. I consider him to be a true European and not just the British Commissioner. 

A former adviser to John Major and Ken Clarke, Hill joined the commission in 2014. He was given the portfolio of financial markets in a peace-making gesture from the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, towards the British government.

Juncker’s decision to award the crucial finance portfolio to a Briton was intended to pour oil on troubled waters, after David Cameron tried to block Juncker’s appointment.

In a respectful statement of thanks, Juncker said he had tried to persuade Hill to stay on as a commissioner, describing the Conservative peer as “a true European and not just the British commissioner”.

The commission president had wanted a Briton in charge of financial services “as a sign of my confidence in the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union. To my great regret, this situation is now changing.”

A Downing Street spokesman said: “The prime minister is sorry that Lord Hill has decided to step down. He is extremely grateful to Lord Hill for his service at the European commission in the crucial portfolio of financial stability, financial services and capital markets union.

“He has done an excellent job as a commissioner, helping to focus the European commission on measures to promote growth and jobs, in particular his proposals to increase the flow of affordable investment capital across the EU and for giving the UK a strong voice in the European commission. The prime minister wishes Lord Hill well for the future.”

The spokesman said a decision on a future British commissioner would fall to Cameron’s successor: “It will be for the next prime minister to decide, following discussions with European partners, what role the UK plays in the European commission, given we remain a full member of the EU until we have left.”

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