Tim Barrow

Sir Timothy Earle Barrow KCMG LVO MBE (born 15 February 1964) is a British diplomat who is the current British Ambassador to the European Union. Barrow was appointed as Permanent Representative in January 2017 following the resignation of his predecessor, Sir Ivan Rogers, and played an important role in the United Kingdom Brexit negotiations. He was responsible on 29 March 2017 for formally invoking Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union on behalf of the UK. When the United Kingdom left the EU on 31 January 2020, Barrow became British Ambassador to the European Union.

Sir Tim Barrow

Tim Barrow, 2015.jpg
British Ambassador to the European Union
Assumed office
1 February 2020
MonarchElizabeth II
Prime MinisterBoris Johnson
DeputyKatrina Williams
Preceded byHimself (as UKREP)
Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the European Union
In office
4 January 2017 – 31 January 2020
MonarchElizabeth II
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Boris Johnson
DeputyKatrina Williams
Preceded bySir Ivan Rogers
Succeeded byHimself (as HMA/EU)
British Ambassador to Russia
In office
1 November 2011 – 1 January 2016
MonarchElizabeth II
PresidentDmitry Medvedev
Vladimir Putin
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byDame Anne Pringle
Succeeded byLaurie Bristow
British Ambassador to Ukraine
In office
1 July 2006 – 2008
MonarchElizabeth II
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Gordon Brown
Preceded byRobert Brinkley
Succeeded byLeigh Turner
Personal details
Born (1964-02-15) 15 February 1964 (age 56)
EducationArnold Lodge School
Warwick School
Alma materBrasenose College, Oxford

Barrow has been a civil servant in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) since 1986. He served in London, Kiev, Moscow and Brussels before his appointment as the British Ambassador to Ukraine in 2006. In 2008, he became the Ambassador to the Western European Union and the UK Representative to the Political and Security Committee. From 2011 to 2016, he served as the British Ambassador to Russia before returning to London as the FCO's Political Director, the number two in the department to the Permanent Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.


Barrow was born in 1964 and attended Arnold Lodge School in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, before attending Warwick School in Warwickshire. Thereafter he studied English at Brasenose College[1] at the University of Oxford.[2][3]

Diplomatic careerEdit

Early diplomatic career (1986–2000)Edit

Barrow joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in 1986 and worked as a desk officer in the Western European Department from 1987 to 1988. He then did Russian language training for a year before taking part in the British Days Exhibition in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, in 1989. From 1990 to 1993, he was the second secretary at the British Embassy in Moscow, and then returned to London where he was head of the Russia Section in the Foreign Office for a year. From 1994 to 1996, he was private secretary to a Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. Barrow was then appointed as a first secretary of the United Kingdom Representation to the European Union, serving from 1996 to 1998, before returning again to London as a private secretary to Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary.[4][5]

London, Brussels, Kiev and Moscow (2000–2017)Edit

In 2000, Barrow was appointed as head of the Common Foreign and Security Department at the Foreign Office, and in 2003 was appointed as the assistant director of the Europe Directorate - External, including during the UK's presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2005. He was also involved in negotiations over the Treaty of Lisbon at this time.[6] Barrow served as deputy political director at the Foreign Office from 2005 to 2006 before his appointment as Her Majesty's Ambassador to Ukraine in 2006. He took up the post in July that year and held it until 2008 when he returned to Brussels as UK Representative to the Political and Security Committee and Ambassador to the Western European Union.[4][5]

Barrow presents his letter of credence to Dmitry Medvedev, then-President of Russia, on 7 December 2011.

In August 2011, Barrow was announced as Her Majesty's Ambassador to the Russian Federation, to succeed Anne Pringle in November that year.[4][7] Shortly after his arrival, he oversaw the visit of David Cameron, the Prime Minister, to Russia. This was part a wider policy implemented by Cameron for a "reset" in relations with Russia following the fallout of the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko.[6] In August 2012, he was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry over the stoning of the Russian Embassy in London by anti-war activists protesting Russian involvement in the Syrian Civil War.[8] Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov expressed his wish to Barrow that "such dangerous and provocative actions will be strongly suppressed by the British security in the future."[9]

In February 2015, following the murder of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, Barrow hosted the former Prime Minister John Major. He also attended Nemtsov's wake with Major and joined other Western ambassadors in laying flowers at a tribute to him near Red Square. Politico reported that he was a "low-key" ambassador, which allowed him to avoid some of the vilification aimed at other Western diplomats. However, this masked some significant achievements that he made in a tenure marked by Russian military interventions in Ukraine and Syria and a crackdown on dissent by Vladimir Putin. Aleksey Pushkov, who led the State Duma foreign affairs committee during Barrow's tenure, commented that "He created the impression of a real professional who was able to advocate the positions of his own government, while also striving to find out and understand Russia’s positions."[8]

After leaving his role in Moscow, Barrow was appointed as a political director at the Foreign Office in London, succeeding Simon Gass.[10] This role included overseeing international organisations, multilateral policy, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, Africa, South Asia and Afghanistan.[5]

Permanent Representative to the EU (2017–2020)Edit

On 3 January 2017, Ivan Rogers resigned from his position as Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the European Union, citing frustration over the government's negotiating strategy in their planned withdrawal from the European Union.[11] The next day, Barrow was appointed to replace him. A Downing Street spokesman said Barrow was "a seasoned and tough negotiator, with extensive experience of securing UK objectives in Brussels."[10] Charles Crawford, who worked with Barrow in the early 1990s, commented that he "understands Brussels and the EU, but he is not pickled in its ghastly processes."[12] The Financial Times reported that Barrow's appointment was opposed by Oliver Robbins, the permanent secretary at the Department for Exiting the European Union, who wanted to take control of negotiations with the EU himself. However, the Foreign Office overruled him.[13]

Barrow appointed two senior civil servants to his team in Brussels in March 2017. They were Katrina Williams, a director-general at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy who was appointed as deputy permanent representative, and Simon Case, Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister, who was appointed as head of the UK-EU Partnership.[14] On 20 March, Barrow appeared before the European Scrutiny Committee to give evidence on UK-EU relations prior to the invocation of Article 50. During the hearing, he warned that it may not be possible to leave the European Union without paying anything, as some Conservative MPs had suggested, and that "other legal opinions" offered "a different interpretation".[15][16]

Barrow was responsible for handing over the letter of United Kingdom's invocation of Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union in Brussels on 29 March 2017 to European Council President Donald Tusk.[17][18]

On 17 October 2018 Barrow accompanied British Prime Minister Theresa May to the European Council summit in Brussels, where 27 EU leaders met to discuss the Brexit negotiations (Art.50).[19] After the Council meeting, Barrow wrote to the Secretaries General of the Council and Commission of the European Union on behalf of the UK. His letters stated that the UK had no doubt over its sovereignty of Gibraltar, including British Gibraltar Territorial Waters, and that Gibraltar's sovereignty would never be transferred against the democratically expressed wishes of its citizens.[20]

Ambassador to the EU (2020–present)Edit

After the UK left the EU on 31 January 2020, Barrow's portfolio changed to British Ambassador to the European Union effective 1 February.

Personal lifeEdit

Barrow is married to Alison Barrow and they have two sons and two daughters.[4]


Barrow was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 1994 New Year Honours, and Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order (LVO) in 1994.[21][22] He was appointed Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in the 2006 Birthday Honours and promoted to Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) in the 2015 New Year Honours for services to British foreign policy and interests in Russia.[23][24]


  1. ^ http://www.bnc.ox.ac.uk>princblog 14.12.16-9.1.17
  2. ^ Pickard, Lily (5 January 2017). "New UK Ambassador to the EU raised in Leamington Spa". The Boar. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
  3. ^ "OW Sir Tim Barrow appointed Britain's Ambassador to the EU". Old Warwickians. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d "Change of Her Majesty's Ambassador to the Russian Federation". Gov.uk. 2 August 2011. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
  5. ^ a b c "Sir Tim Barrow appointed as UK Permanent Representative to the EU". Gov.uk. 4 January 2017. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
  6. ^ a b "Sir Tim Barrow profile: 'He will report back reliably on EU thinking'". The Guardian. 4 January 2017. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
  7. ^ "Tim Barrow Named British Ambassador to Russia". The Moscow Times. 2 August 2011. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
  8. ^ a b Bennetts, Marc (13 January 2017). "Tim Barrow, invisible ambassador". Politico. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
  9. ^ "Russia protests to Britain regarding attack on Russian Embassy in London". Vestnik Kavkaza. 17 August 2012. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
  10. ^ a b "Sir Tim Barrow appointed as Britain's EU ambassador". The Guardian. 4 January 2017. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
  11. ^ "UK has lost 'one of the greatest experts' on EU, says ex-Foreign Office chief". The Guardian. 4 January 2017. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
  12. ^ Hughes, Laura (4 January 2017). "Sir Tim Barrow will succeed Sir Ivan Rogers as Britain's ambassador to the EU". The Telegraph. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
  13. ^ Blitz, James; Parker, George (5 January 2017). "Top official at Brexit ministry opposed Tim Barrow as EU ambassador". Financial Times. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
  14. ^ Brecknell, Suzannah (14 March 2017). "EU ambassador Sir Tim Barrow builds Brexit team with senior hires from BEIS and Number 10". Civil Service World. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
  15. ^ Merrick, Rob (20 March 2017). "Brexit: EU believes Britain cannot escape multi-billion pound 'divorce bill', UK Ambassador warns". The Independent. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
  16. ^ "Sir Tim Barrow and David Jones questioned on EU-UK relations". Parliament.uk. 20 March 2017. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
  17. ^ "The world's most important delivery boy: Sir Tim Barrow's big day in Brussels". The Daily Telegraph. 29 March 2017. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  18. ^ "With battered case and Savile Row suit, our man in Brussels plays a part in history". The Daily Telegraph. 29 March 2017. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  19. ^ "UK's May to study Brexit extension period, ensure soft Irish border deal". http://www.efe.com. Retrieved 26 December 2018. External link in |website= (help)
  20. ^ "UK writes to EU: no Gibraltar sovereignty process against the wishes of its people". MercoPress. Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  21. ^ "No. 53527". The London Gazette. 31 December 1993. p. 26.
  22. ^ "No. 53852". The London Gazette. 18 November 1994. p. 16181.
  23. ^ "No. 61092". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2014. p. N3.
  24. ^ "Diplomatic Service and Overseas List" (PDF). Gov.uk. 2015. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Robert Brinkley
HM Ambassador to Ukraine
Succeeded by
Leigh Turner
Preceded by
Dame Anne Pringle
HM Ambassador to the Russian Federation
Succeeded by
Laurie Bristow
Preceded by
Sir Ivan Rogers
British Permanent Representative
to the European Union

2017–31 January 2020
Succeeded by
as British Ambassador
to the European Union
Preceded by
as British Permanent Representative
to the European Union
British Ambassador
to the European Union

1 February 2020–present