David Davis

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For the American Supreme Court justice, see David Davis (justice).
A profile of Davis' face
David Davis

Sir David Michael Davis KCB (born 23 December 1948) is a British politician who served as Shadow Home Secretary from 2003 to 2008 and Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union from 2016 to 2018. A member of the Conservative Party, he has served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Haltemprice and Howden, formerly Boothferry, since 1987. Davis was sworn of the Privy Council in the 1997 New Year Honours, having previously been Minister of State for Europe from 1994 to 1997.


  • Project managers who believe that closing down a project will wreck their careers are tempted to carry on in the hope they will have a slight chance of saving their reputations. Both courses carry the risk of disaster for those responsible for a project, but one—abandonment—is often far better for the company.
  • There is a proper role for referendums in constitutional change, but only if done properly. If it is not done properly, it can be a dangerous tool. The Chairman of the Public Administration Committee, who is no longer in the Chamber, said that Clement Attlee—who is, I think, one of the Deputy Prime Minister's heroes—famously described the referendum as the device of demagogues and dictators. We may not always go as far as he did, but what is certain is that pre-legislative referendums of the type the Deputy Prime Minister is proposing are the worst type of all. ¶ Referendums should be held when the electorate are in the best possible position to make a judgment. They should be held when people can view all the arguments for and against and when those arguments have been rigorously tested. In short, referendums should be held when people know exactly what they are getting. So legislation should be debated by Members of Parliament on the Floor of the House, and then put to the electorate for the voters to judge. ¶ We should not ask people to vote on a blank sheet of paper and tell them to trust us to fill in the details afterwards. For referendums to be fair and compatible with our parliamentary process, we need the electors to be as well informed as possible and to know exactly what they are voting for. Referendums need to be treated as an addition to the parliamentary process, not as a substitute for it.
  • If we do a free trade agreement with Europe it will be beneficial for both sides, as it were, on its own two feet, without having to pay anything to do it. That's what we're aiming for.
  • You can change the leader, you can't change the numbers. We've got to focus on the issue here, which is delivering on the Brexit demand of the British people. That means leaving the customs union and leaving the single market.
  • [E]very law we write must be written on the presumption that it will be a government very unlike ours who will be in charge at some point in the future.
  • Free speech is one of our fundamental rights — it is not a gift from the state to be withdrawn at the whim of a government, but the birth right of our citizens. I sympathise with the aims of this government to maintain law and order — but that must not be at the expense of our precious rights and freedoms...

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