Tory manifesto will have to be ‘pruned’, says David Davis
In a round of interviews the Brexit secretary also issued an implicit slap down to the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, after reports at the weekend that he was preparing a leadership bid.
Mr Johnson publically denied this, while Mr Davis described such talk among Mr Johnson’s allies as “unbelievably self-indulgent”.
He also denied reports that Mrs May had been in tears as the election result became clear saying: “She’s fine. She’s getting on with the job.”
Speaking on the Radio 4 Today programme Mr Davis said the election did not mean that Britain would now remain in the single market, pointing out that both Conservative and Labour had stood on a platform of pulling the UK out.
He said there could be a short delay in the talks that are due to begin next week as they clashed with the Queen’s Speech, but insisted they would get going shortly.
“My permanent secretary is actually in Brussels today talking to them about the details,” he said.
“It may not be on the Monday because we also have got the Queen’s Speech that week and I will have to speak in that, and so on.”
Mr Davis added: “In the first round we are going to have pretty long meetings at roughly one week a month — which is much, much faster than any previous trade deal they have done.
“The first bit of it — Brussels want to do the so-called divorce proceedings first — the first bit of that includes European citizens in the UK.
“It includes money, they want to talk about that, we think it should come later, and Northern Ireland.
“The European citizens in the UK, we want to get on with as fast as possible because we don’t want people to be in a state of anxiety.”
Asked if he was now accepting Brussels’ timetable, as set out by chief negotiator Michel Barnier, Mr Davis said: “What we have said is we will start down this process, but I will have some discussions with Mr Barnier about how we progress to the wider thing of the trade area.
“The most important thing in the aggregate is the trade area.”
Mr Davis said retaining the single market and controlling the UK’s borders was “not compatible”, which he insisted had been made clear during the referendum campaign.
Mr Davis, who kept his job in the cabinet reshuffle, also welcomed the news of the former justice secretary Michael Gove’s return to the front bench, saying: “He’s a formidable talent. I’m happy to see him back.”
But he admitted that some parts of the manifesto would now have to be dropped.
“We are being given an instruction by the British people and we’ve got to carry it out,” he said.
“That may mean that some elements of the manifesto will be pruned away, shall we say.”
He sidestepped questions on whether controversial social care plans, branded a “dementia tax” by opposition parties, would be ditched by the party ahead of the Queen’s Speech on June 19.
Mrs May is facing a showdown with Conservative MPs on the backbench 1922 Committee later today amid anger over the way the party saw its majority wiped out in the election.
The prime minister will also chair a meeting of her rejigged cabinet.
However, despite concerns about both her leadership style and the campaign, there is thought to be little appetite for an immediate attempt to oust her.
Mr Davis insisted he had no ambition on taking the top job, telling Good Morning Britain: “I am not interested.”
Mr Johnson used an article in The Sun to stress his support for the prime minister: “To those that say the PM should step down, or that we need another election or even — God help us — a second referendum, I say come off it. Get a grip, everyone.”
Other senior Tories — including Graham Brady, the influential chair of the 1922 Committee — predicted that MPs would rally round, insisting there was no mood in the party for a damaging leadership contest which could see them plunged into a fresh general election.
Speaking on Good Morning Britain, Mr Brady said the overriding mood within the Conservative party was one of realism and recognising they had not got the result they wanted.
He said: “I think we have a job to do and the job is try to provide the most steady government we most possibly can.”
Asked if Mrs May had failed, Mr Brady said: “No; I would accept that the election campaign was one of the worst that I can recall.”
He added that he was going to do what he thought was in the national interest, and that was to keep the prime minister in office.
Mr. David Davis: “My permanent secretary is actually in Brussels today talking to them about the details,”; “It may not be on the Monday because we also have got the Queen’s Speech that week and I will have to speak in that, and so on.”; “The European citizens in the UK, we want to get on with as fast as possible because we don’t want people to be in a state of anxiety.”; “What we have said is we will start down this process, but I will have some discussions with Mr Barnier about how we progress to the wider thing of the trade area".