David Davis’s former chief of staff launches extraordinary tirade against ‘drunk, bullying and inappropriate’ Brexit chief

James Chapman launched a tirade against his old boss

Jon Stone
Europe Correspondent
Tuesday 15 August 2017 12:32
David Davis is in charge of Brexit
David Davis is in charge of Brexit

The former chief of staff at the Brexit Department has launched an extraordinary tirade against his old boss David Davis, saying he had witnessed him being “drunk, bullying and inappropriate”.

In a stream of early-morning tweets, James Chapman made a series of astonishing claims about the man leading Britain's negotiations to leave the EU, including that he:

• “Leered” over Labour MP Diane Abbott while allegedly “drunk”

• Has been "working 3 day week since day one"

• Keeps former Ukip leader Nigel Farage on “speed dial”

• Could get easy rides in BBC interviews because of close relationships with top presenters

• Conducted extraordinary outbursts against foreign leaders

While Mr Davis was doing a series of interviews on breakfast television and radio, Mr Chapman called for Remain-supporting MPs “of honour” such as Chancellor Philip Hammond, Jeremy Hunt, Justine Greening, and Sajid Javid to quit the cabinet.

Mr Chapman, also a former political editor of the Daily Mail, alleged that Mr Davis “would never prep for” Radio 4 Today programme interviews with presenter John Humphrys because the two were close to the extent of going on “holiday” together - a claim denied by a BBC source.

“It is totally inappropriate for Humphrys to conduct Brexit interviews. [The Daily] Mail has to be prised out of his hands and he holidays with [David Davis],” he tweeted.

He alleged that Mr Davis “knew Humphrys would do [his] Brexit chums act then hector and interrupt Labour spokespeople”.

He added: “David Davis was also relaxed about Andrew Neil as they drink (lots) together regularly and his producer Robbie Gibb is a deranged Brexiteer now at No10”.

Mr Davis was in February branded “disgusting” and “misogynist” by Labour MPs after a leaked text message showed he had suggested MP Diane Abbott was not attractive enough to kiss.

A spokesperson for Mr Davis said at the time he was sorry for any offence caused and that the message were a “self- evidently jocular and private exchange with a friend”.

Apparently commenting on the episode today, Mr Chapman added: “I was with David Davis when he leered over Diane Abbott. He was drunk, bullying and inappropriate.”

James Chapman (left) and the Brexit Secretary David Davis

Mr Chapman, who until now had always been careful not to directly criticise his old boss, let rip the string of messages on Twitter after Mr Davis said on television that his former chief of staff had always been a “Remainer”.

Recounting two apparently embarrassing outbursts for Mr Davis he said: “Someone should ask David Davis about time he told horrified Slovakian PM ‘if you think we are going to pay so you can sell us your cars, forget it’”.

He added: “Someone should ask David Davis about time he called [EU negotiator] Michel Barnier by mistake thinking he was talking to a far-right friend”.

Mr Chapman served as Mr Davis’s chief of staff until around a month ago. He has called for a new centrist political party to be set up to stop Brexit.

Asked what he made of Mr Chapman's recent suggestion that the Brexit department is "in chaos", Mr Davis told LBC radio: "James when he came to me was, I mean he was a Remainer, we knew that.

"But he did a good job, he was a good chief of staff, I'm not going to criticise him, I just don't do that, I'm afraid."

Asked if he had Mr Farage on speed dial, Mr Davis replied: "Not on speed dial, I've got his number somewhere, I haven't used it for, Lord knows, since I was last on your programme with him.

"So what? All this stuff, this is the small change of politics."

The Department for Exiting the European Union highlighted Mr Davis’s comments on Sky News earlier this morning.

He had said: ”James was a 'Remainer' from the beginning, but he was a very good Chief of Staff. I am not going to criticise or argue with him [on air]."

A BBC source said that Mr Humphreys had not been on holiday with Mr Davis and that nobody in his decades at the Today programme would feel they had been given an “easy interview” by the presenter.

Sarah Sands, the editor of the Today programme, also echoed the rejection of Mr Chapman’s version of events.

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