Britain’s representative on the EU executive in Brussels, Financial Services Commissioner Jonathan Hill, said on Saturday he was resigning following the referendum vote for Brexit which he had campaigned against.
“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. “I have therefore told (European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker) that I shall stand down.
“At the same time, there needs to be an orderly handover, so I have said that I will work with him to make sure that happens in the weeks ahead.”
Hill, 55, a professional lobbyist and former Conservative party leader in Britain’s upper house of parliament, follows his close ally Prime Minister David Cameron in stepping down in the wake of the referendum on Thursday.
He had already faced calls in the European Parliament to give up the sensitive financial services 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 eurozone markets.
As long as Britain remains an EU member it will continue to have a seat on the 28-strong Commission, giving Cameron, or more likely his successor, a right to nominate another commissioner, whose appointment would be subject to EU parliamentary approval.
The distribution of portfolios in the Commission is in the gift of its president, former Luxembourg premier Juncker, in negotiation with the leader of the member state nominating their commissioner.
Hill’s appointment to the finance job in 2014 was seen as a peace offering from Juncker to Cameron, who had tried to block the Commission president’s own appointment that year. It was viewed with some suspicion by eurozone bankers keen to challenge London’s dominance as Europe’s financial capital.