European Union names first ambassador to Brexit Britain

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union on Friday named a Portuguese diplomat as its first ambassador to Britain after it leaves the EU next week.

Britain’s tortured EU divorce will be final on Jan. 31, more than three years since Britons 52-48% in a referendum in favor of departing the bloc.

“As of that date, the United Kingdom will be a third country,” the EU’s joint foreign policy service said in a statement that named João Vale de Almeida “the first head of the future EU delegation to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.”

It said Almeida, who previously serves as the EU’s ambassador to the United Nations and the United States, would take up his new role on Feb. 1.

Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Mark Heinrich