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David Davis says he won't apologise to Theresa May despite advising her to call catastrophic election

Brexit Secretary says he did not ‘design’ the party’s flawed campaign strategy

Joe Watts
Political Editor
Sunday 25 June 2017 11:09 BST
David Davis accepts part of the blame for calling an unsuccessful election

David Davis has admitted he advised Theresa May to call the catastrophic general election, but has not apologised to her because he says the botched campaign was not his fault.

The Brexit Secretary said he accepted his share of the responsibility for the election result, but pointedly remarked that he did not “design” the party’s flawed campaign strategy.

He said that while Theresa May is “under pressure”, it would harm the country’s prospects if the Tory party now became engaged in a “self-indulgent” leadership contest.

Appearing on BBC 1’s Andrew Marr Show, Mr Davis responded to reports that he had personally pushed the Prime Minister to go to the polls, a decision which saw the party squander its parliamentary majority.

He said: “Yes. I take my share of the blame for it, along with the other twenty members of the Cabinet who all said it was a good idea.”

Interviewer Andrew Marr pointed out that Mr Davis had made a particular point of pushing for the election and asked if he had apologised to Ms May for the advice, to which the minister responded after a hesitation: “I didn’t apologise to her.

“I didn’t design the campaign, you know. I thought we’d get a better result than we did.”

Philip Hammond refuses to answer question of how long Theresa May has got as PM

He went on: “It didn’t work did it... Every campaign, you get critics along the way. Every campaign has a wobbly Wednesday. If it succeeds, it succeeds. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. It didn’t.”

The interview came amid further reports on potential Tory leadership contests, with one suggesting Chancellor Philip Hammond could do a deal with Mr Davis to become a caretaker leader until after Brexit.

Another report indicated that some Tory MPs want a fresh face as the next leader, potentially someone from the 2015 intake, with ministers like Dominic Raab and Boris Johnson’s brother, Jo, in the frame.

But despite reports that he himself is positioning for a leadership bid, Mr Davis said he thought a new contest now would be catastrophic for the UK’s attempts to negotiate a deal with the EU, adding that he believed Ms May to be “a very good prime minister”.

He went on: “I know she’s coming under a lot of pressure at the moment, but I’ve seen her in action. I’ve seen a number of prime ministers in operation over the years – I go right back to Margaret Thatcher – I think she’s very good, she makes good decisions, she’s bold, she takes her time.”

He went on: “Don’t be so self-indulgent, is my message to those plotters... the more you do of that, the more self-indulgent nonsense you go in for, the more difficult you make it to do our proper job.”

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