Brexit Secretary David Davis has claimed that criticism of the Prime Minister and speculation over her survival in the top job represented the “height
Brexit Secretary David Davis has claimed that criticism of the Prime Minister and speculation over her survival in the top job represented the “height of self-indulgence”.
“Look, I view the stuff in the papers this weekend as the absolute height of self-indulgence, on [the part of] people who speculate on leadership or so on or getting involved in it,” he told John Humphrys on the Today programme.
He continued: “It is the height of self-indulgence. We have been given an instruction by the British people and the decision by the British people is now for us to go back and do the job, not to bicker amongst ourselves whose fault it was or whatever.”
The comments come after the Tories failed to secure an overall majority in Parliament as Labour gained 34 seats, forcing the Conservatives to forge a coalition with northern Ireland’s unionist and socially conservative party, the DUP.
Ms May, with Mr Davis’ support, called a snap election within seven weeks as she claimed there was a lack of unity in Westminster.
After repeated claims that she would not hold a snap election, she said the turnaround was to provide her with a mandate to hold successful Brexit negotiations.
Mr Davis said during the Radio 4 interview that he would take responsibility for holding another election “along with the other 20 or so cabinet members who agreed with the decision”.
“It was nothing to do with the polls, per se, it was to do with the timetable,” he claimed, adding that holding an election on the old timetable would have clashed with the Brexit negotiations and given the opposition an “easy pressure point”.
After the weak result for the Tories, the Daily Mail claimed Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was planning to launch a bid for Prime Minister. Mr Johnson said the headline was “tripe”.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called for Ms May to resign, as did Tory MPs such as Anna Soubry.
In response, Mr Johnson wrote in The Sun that people engaging in speculation should “get a grip”.
The same day, a group Whatsapp conversation, including Mr Johnson and Michael Gove and calling Ms May a “woman of extraordinary qualities”, was leaked to the press.
At the time the party called an election, the Prime Minister was enjoying record-high approval ratings, but they plummeted in parallel with Labour’s rise in May and June after several U-turns from Ms May including the “dementia tax” and social care.
The Tories lost traditional seats such as Canterbury and Kensington, despite winning more votes than former Prime Minister Tony Blair gained in the landslide of 1997.
The election outcome was “not the one we would have liked”, admitted Mr Davis, but said he was happy the party was back in government.
He added that the Brexit talks represented the largest negotiations for the UK since WW2. Talks are set to start this month.