David davis

Alex Salmond teases a reconciliation with Sturgeon

Even in her absence, Nicola Sturgeon dominated Iain Dale’s discussion with Alex Salmond and David Davis at the Edinburgh festival. Dale invited them both to comment on George Galloway’s suggestion that Sturgeon is ‘Mrs Thatcher in a kilt.’ Salmond flatly rejected this caricature. (Evidently he knows that criticising her in public will do him no favours.) Davis also dismissed the comparison. ‘Mrs Thatcher’s favourite pastime was arguing with people. Nicola wasn’t like that,’ he said, recalling the meetings he held with her during his term as Brexit secretary. ‘Nicola was very passive, very difficult to engage with. She adopted the image of a stern, domineering woman – which a lot

Boris Johnson avoids a Commons vote on foreign aid

Update: Commons speaker Lindsay Hoyle has announced that a vote on the aid spending amendment has not been selected. Hoyle says the amendment is out of the scope of the current bill, meaning Boris Johnson will avoid a potentially difficult vote on the issue – for now. Hoyle suggested the government should give MPs an opportunity for a vote at a later date on restoring the foreign aid pledge to 0.7 per cent of gross national income. As preparations get underway in Downing Street for this week’s G7 summit, trouble is brewing in the House of Commons. The government is facing a potential defeat on a vote it didn’t want to have: the cut

James Forsyth

Theresa May gives David Davis a backstop concession

After a morning of high drama in Westminster, the UK government now has a backstop proposal to put to the EU. Last night, the backstop text said that it was time limited but didn’t specify an end date. In two meetings with the Prime Minister this morning, David Davis demanded changes. He has got some concessions: the text now talks about how ‘The UK expects the future arrangement to be in place by December 2021’. But there is no hard cut-off date in the text. Theresa May was acutely aware that if one had been included, the EU would have rejected it out of hand. We now wait to see

Robert Peston

David Davis stays put – for now

For the past 24 hours, there has been a power struggle between the Prime Minister and her Brexit Secretary, David Davis. Theresa May – or rather her officials – had been insisting that a backstop plan for keeping open the Ireland border would not be amended, to include a sunset clause and formal end date for the backstop. Davis said he would quit in the absence of an end date. She caved. According to sources close to Davis, ‘the backstop paper has been amended and expresses, in much more detail, the time-limited nature of our proposal’. So to be clear, there is now a termination date in May’s backstop proposal.

David Davis’s bombshell leak spells trouble for Nicola Sturgeon

The first thing to be said about David Davis’s dramatic intervention in the Salmond-Sturgeon affair is that it is a masterful piece of concern-trolling. The second thing to be said is that this does not matter. Davis, speaking armoured by parliamentary privilege, revealed information passed to him by a ‘whistleblower’ that has hitherto been kept secret. On the face of it, there are very good reasons explaining why the SNP and the Scottish government would wish to keep it that way. Ostensibly, Davis’s intervention is motivated by concern that the Scottish parliament and its members lack the ability to pursue the truth wherever it may lead. He came, he said,

David Davis: Scotland – A deficit of power and accountability

For the past few months, Scotland has been transfixed by the Holyrood inquiry seeking the truth of what went wrong with the investigations into the former First Minister, Alex Salmond.  The inquiry is investigating matters of the most serious kind. Serious for the proper handling of sexual harassment complaints in Scotland. Serious for the accountability of those in positions of power, including the Scottish Government’s Permanent Secretary and its Lord Advocate. And serious, if the former First Minister’s claims hold any water, for the future of the present First Minister’s administration of Scotland. These matters are unquestionably something that should properly be dealt with in Holyrood. But Holyrood has great difficulties exposing what went

The government must be as ready to remove restrictions as it was to impose them

For days, the Prime Minister had been resisting the kind of measures which have placed many other countries into lockdown, confining their citizens largely to their homes. Civil servants had pointed to studies saying that many ‘social distancing’ strategies might do more harm than good. In the end, the trajectory of the virus — and the global response — meant the restrictions now in place were inevitable. But at every stage, the Prime Minister has made it clear he was acting with reluctance. While he has been criticised by those seeking a heavier-handed approach, opinion polls suggest most of the country is with him. Yet public opinion can be fickle.

James Forsyth

David Davis: There’s no deal without a trade deal

With a year and a day to go to Brexit, David Davis sat down for an interview with Andrew Neil this evening. Davis was clear that there wouldn’t be a deal, and thus a £37bn payment to the EU, unless there was an agreement on the future relationship too. Contrary to the received wisdom, David Davis told this special Spectator event that the UK and the EU will ‘get pretty substantively close’ to a free trade agreement by October. He argued that this meant that the withdrawal agreement would have a lot of detail on what the future trading relationship would be. He said that he thought that this would

Fighting fit

At a dinner in the Irish embassy in London last November, Dominic Raab believed he was on the brink of a Brexit breakthrough. In a meeting with Simon Coveney, Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Brexit secretary sought to find a compromise on the issue of the backstop. He explained that parliament would never agree an open-ended pledge in the way the EU envisaged: pushing things too far would end in the failure of talks. But Britain could make separate guarantees on the border, he said, leading to a ‘win, win’ for both sides. Coveney seemed interested, and suggested he would consider it. Just days later, the idea was dropped

David Davis de-dramatises his Brexit rhetoric

David Davis has caused a stir this afternoon after he sent a letter to Tory MPs claiming the Conservatives ‘will lose the next election’ if Theresa May continues with Chequers. The former Brexit Secretary claims the consequences will be ‘dire’. Although Mr S suspects this is not what No 10 would have had in mind for the first day back after the recess, Downing Street can take heart that Davis’s rhetoric appears to have actually softened slightly. Back in June, Davis warned the Brexit inner Cabinet that if Britain is under the backstop at the time of the next election not only would the Tories suffer defeat – it would

Portrait of the week | 12 July 2018

Home Boris Johnson resigned as Foreign Secretary the day after David Davis resigned as Brexit Secretary, both in reaction to a government plan for Brexit agreed by the cabinet after being held incommunicado at Chequers for 12 hours, their mobile phones confiscated. At Chequers, Mr Johnson was reported to have said: ‘Anyone defending the proposal we have just agreed will find it like trying to polish a turd.’ In his resignation letter he said that the Brexit ‘dream is dying, suffocated by needless self-doubt’, adding: ‘We are truly headed for the status of a colony.’ Dominic Raab, the housing minister, replaced Mr Davis; Kit Malthouse replaced Mr Raab. Jeremy Hunt,

Why No 10 made Dominic Raab Brexit Secretary

Dominic Raab has this morning been appointed as David Davis’s successor as Brexit Secretary. Raab moves from his role as minister of state for Housing to his first Cabinet post as Secretary of State for Exiting the EU. Well-liked among colleagues, Raab is someone who is seen to have been consistently overlooked for promotion. He was recently asked in a television interview, why he hadn’t been promoted given that he was so consistently loyal in defending the government’s position. He is also a savvy hire by No 10 thanks to the fact Raab is a Davis ally and a dedicated Leaver. It will help to send the signal that this


The next Brexit Secretary: runners and riders

David Davis had left DexEU – and taken most of his colleagues with him. Steve Baker – junior minister– at the Brexit department has resigned and there are rumours Suella Braverman could also quit. So, with a growing Brexit rebellion brewing, Theresa May’s next move is pivotal. Who will replace Davis? No-one: The department for Exiting the European Union has been repeatedly sidelined by No 10. There’s a chance that Theresa May will respond by merging that department into another – the Cabinet Office or the Foreign Office. However, the optics of closing the Department for Brexit at a time when critics say the Brexit dream has died would not


David Davis’s special adviser lashes out

Oh dear. At one point this weekend, it seemed as though Theresa May had pulled off a blinder – getting her Cabinet Brexiteers to sign up to her soft Brexit plan. Not so anymore after Davis Davis resigned late last night. And it seems, Davis and his band of Brexiteers are not about to make life easy for their Remain-minded colleagues in the Tory party. Steve Baker has followed Davis in resigning from DexEU. As for Davis’s special adviser and former MP Stewart Jackson? Well, he spent last night lashing out at journalists and MPs. Responding to his former colleague Sarah Wollaston – a Tory Remain rebel – complaining about

Why David Davis resigned

The Brexit Secretary David Davis has quit. Davis’s resignation is the biggest political crisis that Theresa May has faced since the loss of her majority in the general election and leaves her facing a battle to save her premiership. Davis has gone because he could not stomach the opening UK negotiating position agreed at Chequers. Davis has long been clear that he wanted a final deal that was, essentially, a souped-up version of the Canada free trade deal. But the position agreed at Chequers envisaged a relationship very different to that, one far more firmly in the EU’s regulatory orbit. As Brexit Secretary Davis was meant to promote the Chequers

Number 10’s new customs plan doesn’t fully exist, sources insist

Has Theresa May finally cracked the customs arrangements problem? The Prime Minister needs to get sign-off from her Cabinet on Britain’s future relationship with Europe at this week’s Chequers summit, and it was briefed overnight that there was now a third option on the table, separate to the customs partnership or the maximum facilitation plan. But this option turned out not to be on the Cabinet table yet, with David Davis and other key ministers finding themselves as in the dark as the rest of us on the matter this morning. I understand that they still haven’t been told what this new model is, but this is largely because the

Brexit row: Remainers point the finger at David Davis

How did the government manage to engineer a ‘compromise’ amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill that’s left it in greater danger of a defeat? On Tuesday, Theresa May gave the pro-Remain rebels assurances that there would be an amendment that they could support in order to avoid defeat on that day, but the amendment published by the government clearly hasn’t met those assurances. It also initially seems bafflingly clumsy that the key figure on the Remain side, Dominic Grieve, was not consulted about the final wording of the government’s amendment. Why drop something on the chief rebel when you want to avoid a rebellion? The explanation for this seems to

David Davis warns Tories are at risk of 1997-style defeat if Britain is under the backstop in 2022

David Davis has, I write in The Sun this morning, warned the Brexit inner Cabinet that if Britain is under the backstop at the time of the next election then the Tories will suffer a 1997-style defeat. The Brexit Secretary argued that this risk meant that the UK had to keep control of the backstop: it had to be able to choose when to end it. But Davis lost this argument with the Prime Minister. However, Number 10 have assured Brexiteer Cabinet Ministers that the UK will be out from under the backstop by the time of the next election in 2022. I am told that Theresa May is hopeful

Will David Davis resign tomorrow? I would not bet against it

David Davis, the Brexit secretary of state and arguably the most important minister in this government other than the Prime Minister, faces a moment of truth tomorrow. He is completely clear that it would be a disastrous mistake for the Prime Minister and the UK government to offer Brussels a backstop proposal for keeping the Irish border open that does not contain a specified end date. His reason is simple. That backstop would commit the UK to staying in the customs union and single market. And once the EU were to have that commitment, Davis believes – plausibly – that his Brussels interlocutor Michel Barnier would no longer have any

Michel Barnier makes easy work of David Davis

On Wednesday evening, David Davis left his sick bucket at home and made his way to the Emmanuel Centre in Westminster for an hour long grilling courtesy of Andrew Neil. At the Spectator event, the Brexit Secretary spoke of his supreme confidence that the final deal would be voted through – and that the makings of a trade deal would be know by this time next year. However, it was Davis’s comment about Michel Barnier – the Chief EU negotiator that caught Steerpike’s attention. The Cabinet minister joked that Barnier had said it was not ‘too hard’ to get Davis to give in: AN: The £37bn divorce bill agreed last