David Davis refuses to say Theresa May will lead Tories into next general election
David Davis has refused to say Theresa May will definitely lead the Conservatives into the next general election.
In another blow for the Prime Minister's authority, the Brexit Secretary would only say he "thinks" she will.
Speculation over whether Mrs May will step down ahead of the next vote - after the disastrous snap general election last year - is rife in Wes
Asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning if Mrs May would still be in the top job when voters decide on the next Government, Mr Davis replied: “I think so.”
He added that at a meeting of Tory MPs last night, Mrs May had delivered “a great speech, and she got fantastic support from the Parliamentary party".
“So, that all bodes very well for the negotiation and the next election,” he explained.
The Brexit Secretary was said to be on the brink of resignation last week amid disagreements over a ‘backstop’ plan to protect Ireland's open border after Britain leaves the EU, and delays to the Government’s long-awaited Brexit White Paper.
This morning he dismissed the reports as “nonsense,” but added that Cabinet ministers were planning two days of intense talks away from Westminster to hammer out ongoing disagreements on the White Paper.
He said: “We are going to have a huge debate in Cabinet on it for two days I think, at Chequers, and put that, as it were, in place, so we can do what I was discussing with [the EU’s chief negotiator] Michel Barnier on Monday and that is accelerate the pace on the economic front for the October council.”
The crucial plan, he said, will “come out after the June Council” and will “set the tone for the entire summer’s negotiations”.
On the controversial ‘backstop’ proposal, which would temporarily align the UK with the EU customs union after the Brexit transition ends in December 2020 if no new arrangement has been agreed, Mr Davis insisted it would not go on indefinitely.
He said: “It will absolutely under no circumstances go later than December 2021.”
Mr Barnier has indicated that Brussels won’t accept a backstop end date as part of the final deal, but Mr Davis suggested his stance could soften during future talks.
He said: “This is a negotiation, he will take his stance and let’s see what happens when we discuss it.”