The appointment of Britain's chief EU negotiator as a minister shows that Brexit talks are not over, an eminent former diplomat has said.
Speaking on Thursday Ivan Rogers said David Frost's elevation to the House of Lords and subsequent government job was an indication of an "ongoing and permanent negotiation".
Sir Ivan, the UK's permanent representative to the EU from 2013 until 2017, left his job after he predicted a trade deal would not be signed until the "early to mid 2020s" – angering Brexiteers in government.
But apparently vindicated, he issued a further prediction that Brexit talks had effectively become "permanent".
During a discussion at the UK-EU Forum think-tank he described Lord Frost's new role as a "recognition, though they won’t quite put it like that, that this is an ongoing and indeed permanent negotiation, which is what some of us were saying in 2016".
"We aren’t at the end – we are at the beginning of a new chapter and there’s plenty still to do," he said.
The UK has already shown an appetite to reopen parts of the Northern Ireland protocol amid concerns over trade chaos on the Irish Sea caused by the new arrangement.
A study by the think-tank the British Foreign Policy Group released this week found just 24 per cent of the population believes the Brexit deal is the best framework for future relations with the EU.
But despite the appetite for a different deal, Sir Ivan predicted the government would be unlikely to pursue a closer relationship.
“When I look at where we are and even what has happened over the last six weeks, do I sense an enormous appetite on the part of the Johnson government to have a thick and close and warm relationship with the EU? No, I don’t," he told the event.
"It’s not where he was when he was foreign secretary and when I was working for him.
"It’s not where he’s been as prime minister. It’s not what David Frost tired to negotiate last year. It’s not where they ended up at the end of the last year. We should not be under any illusions".