David Davis: May’s Brexit policy is ‘sword of Damocles’

Outgoing Brexit secretary David Davis has said he quit government because Theresa May's policy would result in a "sword of Damocles" hanging over the UK.

The Cabinet minister resigned late last night, just 48 hours after the Cabinet signed off on the Prime Minister's new plan to negotiate for a common rulebook as the overarching basis of a future trading relationship, which would result in close harmonisation – or diverge, with the consequential lack of access.

Speaking to the BBC this morning Davis said this meant it would be "very, very difficult for the UK not to agree" with the EU on all areas or face impacts not just in trade but on the island of Ireland.

"That's a devil of a sword of Damocles to have hanging over you," he said. "We're giving too much away, too easily."

He insisted that his resignation – just three months before the critical European Council, at which the heads of terms are meant to be approved and nine months before the UK leaves – would not affect negotiations, arguing the Prime Minister was the "primary negotiator" and that there would most likely be a special Council convened in November.

"These talks always go to the wire," he added.

He did not mention Olly Robbins, who has spent many more hours in the EU and is thought to have driven a wedge between Davis and May, favouring a softer Brexit than the minister.

But Davis said May had chosen a "more conciliatory" approach than he would have done. "My fear is that the EU will take that and demand more," he added.

Davis also stressed his move would not undermine talks, saying the EU would see they can go "no further". Asked if May could survive his resignation, Davis said: "Oh yes."

"If I wanted to bring down Theresa May, now would not be the time to do it," Davis said, pointing to his fulsome support of her after the disastrous general election in 2017.

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