Britain’s representative on the EU executive in Brussels, Financial Services Commissioner Jonathan Hill, resigned on Saturday after having campaigned against a British exit from the European Union.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he had accepted Hill’s decision with regret after failing to convince him to stay on. From July 16, the portfolio will be handled by Valdis Dombrovskis, the Latvian commissioner who, as vice president for the euro, already oversaw Hill’s brief.
Hill had already faced calls in the EU parliament to give up the sensitive finance portfolio, which will be a focus of interest in exit negotiations between Brussels and London. He has had a key role in setting regulations that give Britain’s huge banking sector access to euro zone markets.
Hill, 54, a lobbyist and Conservative leader in the upper house of parliament who has become a popular figure among EU colleagues in 18 months in Brussels, said he was disappointed by the vote and would ensure a handover before leaving on July 15.
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Cameron himself announced his resignation on Friday. He may leave it to his successor as Conservative leader to nominate a new commissioner for the time remaining until Britain quits the EU. It may take until October to install a new prime minister.
Hill, a close ally and friend of Cameron, said: “I came to Brussels as someone who had campaigned against Britain joining the euro and who was skeptical about Europe. I will leave it certain that, despite its frustrations, our membership was good for our place in the world and good for our economy.
“I don’t believe it is right that I should carry on as the British commissioner as though nothing had happened,” Hill said in a statement a day after British voters backed Brexit in a referendum called by Prime Minister David Cameron.“But what is done cannot be undone and now we have to get on with making our new relationship with Europe work as well as possible.”