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British MI6 spy chief set to stay on to steer through Brexit: The Times

Anti-Brexit protesters hold EU flags and placards outside the Houses of Parliament in London on Tuesday. Agence France-Presse

LONDON: The head of Britain's MI6 foreign spy service is expected to stay on beyond his retirement date this year to guide the intelligence agency through the post-Brexit period, The Times newspaper reported.

Alex Younger, 55, is due to retire in November after five years in the role. But officials want him to extend his appointment to cover the 12 to 24 months after Britain has left the EU, The Times said.

If Prime Minister Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt confirm the extension, he will become the longest-serving MI6 chief since the 1960s. MI6 chiefs, known as "C”, traditionally serve for five years at most.

Andrew Parker, the head of MI5, has agreed to remain as director-general of the security service until 2020. He was appointed in 2013.

MI6, depicted by novelists as the employer of some of the most memorable fictional spies from John le Carré’s George Smiley to Ian Fleming’s James Bond, operates overseas and is tasked with defending Britain and its interests.