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8 July 2018updated 09 Jul 2018 6:59am

All the times David Davis threatened to resign over Brexit before he finally did

The Brexit Secretary who would never exit.

By Media Mole

What was different about 8 July 2018, as far as David Davis is concerned? Did England demolishing Sweden whip him into a patriotic fervour? Was the idea of talking to Donald Trump about trade deals just too much? In the heat of the day, did he lose the distinction between trolling the PM and reality? Did he just like the idea of landing everyone a big-fat-Monday-morning surprise?

For whatever reason, close to midnight on Sunday night, the Brexit Secretary decided that, after years of the British public shouting at the TV screen, he was finally coming home. Eight months after he started threatening to, and four days after his latest threat, he finally resigned.

In theory, the reason was the government’s Chequers summit on Brexit. Davis reportedly sent Theresa May a letter declaring her idea of a Brexit “third way” a waste of time. 

If the PM didn’t take him seriously, she can hardly be blamed. After all, the Brexit Secretary seemed remarkably reluctant to follow through with exiting. As a faithful fan of David Davis resigning, your Mole has been keeping count of all the times he said he would:

November 2017

David Davis was “on the brink of resigning” after his fellow cabinet Brexiteers Michael Gove and Boris Johnson sent the Prime Minister a letter setting out their proposal for Britain after it leaves the EU. Davis was said to feel sidelined by a secret plan that left him out and also sidelined him by calling for the appointment of a non-elected Brexit “tsar”.

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Number of resignations threatened by David Davis: 1

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Number of resignations by David Davis: 0

December 2017

David Davis threatened to stand down from the cabinet if his fellow minister Damian Green was sacked over allegations of watching porn on a work computer, which he denied. In the end, the then-First Secretary was forced to quit over “inaccurate and misleading” statements about what he knew about the pornography claims.

Number of resignations threatened by David Davis: 1

Number of resignations by David Davis: 0

March 2018

David Davis told his cabinet colleagues that he’d quit if the final exit deal fell short of allowing Britain’s fishing industry to leave the common fisheries policy. A source told The Times that Davis would resign if “[we] sell out the fishermen”. For the transition agreement, the UK agreed to keep EU-set fishing quotas in place until the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020.

Number of resignations threatened by David Davis: 1

Number of resignations by David Davis: 0

April 2018

David Davis was “ready to resign” if the government pursued a “customs partnership” with the EU – a plan opposed by Brexiteers. The UK is still trying to find a compromise on customs that will somehow keep it outside the customs union with the EU but avoid the need for a hard border with Ireland.

Number of resignations threatened by David Davis: 1

Number of resignations by David Davis: 0

June 2018

Surprise surprise, the Westminster rumour mill was reliably informed that David Davis was threatening to resign over the Prime Minister’s latest Brexit “backstop” plan.

The Brexit Secretary was apparently opposing the proposal, which would keep the whole of the UK in the customs union until a solution to the Irish border problem is found, because no end date to the arrangement was included.

Number of resignations threatened by David Davis: 1

Number of resignations by David Davis: 0

July 2018*

*almost a week after reports that David Davis will resign over a proposed “third way” on Brexit and 48 hours after the Chequers summit


Now read George Eaton on why cabinet minister resignations over Brexit would be pointless.


Final count

Total threats: 6

Total resignations: 1