David Davis

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

David Michael Davis (born 23 December 1948) is a British Conservative politician who was the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union from the time when the post was created, in the wake of the 2016 EU referendum, until his resignation in July 2018. He has been a Member of Parliament since 1987. Previously he was an executive in the sugar industry.


On management of big projects[edit]

  • 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.

On democracy and referendums[edit]

  • 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.

On Brexit[edit]

  • 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.

Controversies about David Davis quotes[edit]

  • Nobody has ever pretended that this will be easy. I have always said that this negotiation will be tough, complex and, at times, confrontational.
    • During his statement on the progress of EU exit negotiations made in the House of Commons (5 September 2017). Previous contradictory statements on the ease of leaving the EU, by his colleagues in government and fellow leave campaigners, include:
      • The day after we vote to leave we hold all the cards and we can choose the path we want.
      • There will continue to be free trade, and access to the single market.
      • Getting out of the EU can be quick and easy – the UK holds most of the cards in any negotiation.
      • To me, Brexit is easy.
      • The free trade agreement that we will have to do with the European Union should be one of the easiest in human history.

Quotes about David Davis[edit]

External links[edit]