A former top aide to David Davis has suggested the Brexit Secretary wants Theresa May to scrap her “red lines” on Britain’s EU exit.
Despite her General Election disaster, the Prime Minister has stuck to her Brexit plan’s hardline stance on leaving the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and gaining full control over immigration.
But it has been claimed two of the most senior members of her Cabinet want Mrs May to soften her position because it is making Brexit negotiations “very difficult”.
James Chapman, Mr Davis’ chief of staff until the General Election, described how both his former boss and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson might be keen for the Prime Minister to rethink her Brexit vision.
Where Mrs May has taken “absolutist positions on particular issues”, such as the ECJ, Mr Chapman said the Prime Minister had “hamstrung” the UK in exit talks with the EU.
He suggested Mrs May had “set a red line” on the ECJ for the purposes of her Tory party conference speech last year.
Mr Chapman insisted “there isn’t anyone better” in Parliament than Mr Davis to negotiate Brexit, telling BBC Radio 4’s The Week In Westminster: “He’s a very tough, resilient operator.
“There have been red lines that have been set for him, that make the job he has to do very difficult.”
Asked if any Brexit-supporters in the upper ranks of Government would want Mrs May to rethink her pre-election Brexit plan, Mr Chapman said: “If you consider the two most powerful Brexiters in the Cabinet; David Davis and Boris Johnson, they’re actually pretty liberal on issues like immigration.
“I think that there would be room to recalibrate some of this approach but at the moment she is showing no willingness to do this.
“She said that when she delivered the Lancaster House speech that’s the plan and that’s what she is sticking to.
“Now this is a new Parliament, there’s a new reality. She has to get these things through Parliament. There’s an enormous amount of legislation.”
He claimed if the Prime Minister doesn’t show “more flexibility” and “pragmatism” then “she won’t get this stuff through Parliament”.
Mr Chapman highlighted withdrawal from the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom), which governs the peaceful use of nuclear energy within the EU, as one area where Parliament was likely to force Mrs May into reversing her position.
He suggested the Prime Minister had committed to leaving Euratom because the treaty is governed by the ECJ and allows the free movement of nuclear scientists.
Mr Chapman said: “We’re withdrawing from it because of this absolutist position on the European Court.”