Revealed: David Davis claims he is being ‘squeezed out’ of crunch talks by a Brexit adviser trying to drive through plans for a new customs ‘partnership’
- Sources say he rung No10 Chief of Staff for the dismissal of adviser Olly Robbins
- Friends of Mr Davis say he’s increasingly frustrated at being ‘squeezed out’ talks
- ‘DD told him there was growing anger over power Robbins wields,’ a source said
Brexit Secretary David Davis was at the centre of a new row with Downing Street last night over claims that he had demanded the resignation of a key aide to Theresa May.
Sources told The Mail on Sunday that Mr Davis had rung No 10 Chief of Staff Gavin Barwell to call for the dismissal of Brexit adviser Olly Robbins, who is trying to drive through plans for a controversial new customs ‘partnership’ with Brussels.
Friends of Mr Davis say that he is growing increasingly frustrated at being ‘squeezed out’ of crunch Brexit discussions by Mr Robbins, with Mrs May increasingly dismissing Mr Davis’s advice on how to handle the EU negotiations in favour of suggestions from her adviser.
Mr Davis had rung No 10 Chief of Staff Gavin Barwell to call for the dismissal of Brexit adviser Olly Robbins, a source claimed
Last night a source close to Mr Davis confirmed that he had made the call to Mr Barwell but denied that he had demanded that Mr Robbins should be sacked.
This newspaper revealed last week that Mr Davis was leading a Cabinet revolt over plans hatched by Mr Robbins to stay in a customs ‘partnership’ with the EU that would allow the UK to strike trade deals around the world, but required us to collect import tariffs on behalf of Brussels.
Mr Davis told No 10 that the idea was unworkable, would be greeted with fury by Brexiteer Tories — and wasn’t even liked by the EU. Pro-Brexit Tory MPs argue that the customs partnership is ‘a Byzantine scheme designed first to slow down Brexit and then to strangle it’.
On the morning our story appeared, Mr Davis rang Mr Barwell. A source said: ‘DD told him that there was growing anger in the party over the power which Robbins wields and suggested he be moved.’ Mrs May will chair a crunch meeting of her Brexit inner Cabinet on Wednesday to thrash out the UK’s policy on the customs union.
Face to face: David Davis in a meeting with Olly Robbins, left, Britain’s EU representative Sir Tim Barrow and an aide
An ally of Mr Davis said last night: ‘Despite everything that has been said, it still looks as if the customs partnership is on the table. May needs to be careful because the Brexiteers will simply not tolerate it’.
No 10 fears that the ‘customs partnership’ is the only compromise option which will be supported by a majority of MPs and avoids the need for a hard border in Northern Ireland.
Mrs May has been warned by party managers that she could lose a crunch vote on her decision to leave the customs union. The vote, which is expected in June, could potentially trigger the collapse of her Government if it binds her to stay in the union.
It came as Mr Davis used an interview yesterday to poke fun at Mrs May.
Asked if he would run for PM if she fell under a bus, Mr Davis replied: ‘The bus wouldn’t dare.’
The source close to Mr Davis said: ‘No part of the conversation between Mr Barwell and Mr Davis was about Mr Robbins being sacked.’
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