Philip Rycroft

Former Permanent Secretary at the Department for Exiting the European Union

Philip John Rycroft CB is a British civil servant who served as the Permanent Secretary at the Department for Exiting the European Union from 2017 to 2019.

Rycroft joined the Scottish Office in 1989. He took a number of roles in agriculture, including being seconded into the Cabinet of Sir Leon Brittan in the European Commission from 1995–1997. With the passing of the Scotland Act 1998, Rycroft moved to become Deputy Head of the new Scottish Executive’s Policy Unit in 1999.

Rycroft left the service in 2000 to work as Public Affairs Manager for Scottish & Newcastle plc., returning two years later as Head of the Schools Group for the Scottish Executive until 2006. He then worked as Head of the Enterprise, Transport and Lifelong Learning Department for a year before being promoted to be the Director-General for Education at the Executive in 2007, during which time it became the Scottish Government.

In 2009, Rycroft transferred back to work for the British government as Director-General for Business and Innovation at the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, later becoming Director-General for Innovation and Enterprise and Chief Executive of the Better Regulation Executive.

In 2011 Rycroft again left the service, serving for a year as Director for Corporate Affairs at Hutchison Whampoa. He then became the Director-General of the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office in the Cabinet Office in 2012, where he served until the general election in May 2015. Thereafter he became the Second Permanent Secretary and Head of the newly-formed UK Governance Group.

In 2016, Rycroft moved to the new Department for Exiting the European Union as its Second Permanent Secretary, whilst retaining his role heading the UK Governance Group. In October 2017, when Olly Robbins was moved to Brussels to personally negotiate with the European Commission, Rycroft became the Permanent Secretary.

In March 2019, it was announced that Rycroft would take early retirement on 29 March 2019, the scheduled date for the UK to leave the European Union.

To book Philip Rycroft as the political speaker for your corporate event, function or conference, simply contact the Champions Speakers agency by emailing or by calling a booking agent directly on 0207 1010 553.

When he’s at corporate events, Philip is known to cover the following topics:

  • Brexit policy implications for the UK and EU
  • Contingency planning for Brexit
  • Politics and economics of the EU