Monday 16 July 2018

Plan hatched to oust Davis from Brexit process

Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis welcomes the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier to Downing Street in London. Photo: REUTERS/Hannah Mckay
Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis welcomes the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier to Downing Street in London. Photo: REUTERS/Hannah Mckay

Shona Murray

A plan to sideline UK Brexit Secretary David Davis in favour of Cabinet Secretary David Lidington is being secretly rolled out by British Prime Minister Theresa May, according to sources.

Mr Davis's performances at Brexit select committee meetings in recent times have been described as "cringe-worthy" by several sources close to the Brexit process.

British officials were also said to have been incredulous over his failure to conduct sectoral impact assessments on the implications of Brexit.

Although Mr Lidington's role as minister for the Cabinet Office does not directly relate to Brexit, he is regarded as someone who has considerable knowledge of how the EU works and whose counsel will be requested on the matter.

He is a former European affairs minister and was a firm Remainer.

He is also seen as a de-facto deputy prime minister and a close ally of Mrs May.

Mr Lidington is seen as a 'safe pair of hands' and was well in tune with his brief in Brussels, said a source.

In fact he was "kept back from a role in cabinet in order to be European affairs minister", they added.

Meanwhile, the UK government's Brexit sub-committee, also known as the 'Brexit war cabinet', has been beset by other rumours that hard-line Brexiteers are trying to oust Mrs May.

According to 'The Times', a plan was being concocted to install Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson in her place if she doesn't comply with their demands to stay outside the customs union.

Any change in leader in Britain would be seen as disruptive to the ongoing Brexit talks, but a takeover by Mr Johnson would be viewed as particularly disastrous by the EU.

For some, Mr Johnson is not regarded as a suitable partner for such deeply complex matters.

Irish officials were said to have been unimpressed by the UK foreign secretary's grasp of Brexit issues when he visited Dublin last November.

Irish Independent

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