One David Davis, one cot­ton bud: take heed, mon­sieur, a lethal combo

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Michael Dea­con

David Davis is much too mod­est to men­tion it, but as a youth he was in the Ter­ri­to­rial SAS. “He’s lucky I didn’t hit him,” Mr Davis is re­ported to have told friends last week, after the co­me­dian Si­mon Brod­kin dis­rupted Theresa May’s party con­fer­ence speech. “He’d have been down for a long time.” Given that a) Mr Davis was sit­ting mere feet away from the in­ci­dent, and b) at least 20 sec­onds passed be­fore se­cu­rity in­ter­vened, Mr Brod­kin clearly got off very lightly in­deed.

If Mr Davis hadn’t re­mained seated through­out the dis­tur­bance, the in­truder would have been in se­ri­ous trou­ble.

One man who would do well to re­mem­ber the Brexit Sec­re­tary’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties is Michel Barnier. Yes­ter­day, at a joint press con­fer­ence in Brus­sels, the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion’s chief ne­go­tia­tor told Mr Davis that there was “no ques­tion” of the EU mak­ing con­ces­sions to Bri­tain.

And, as the two sides were “dead­locked” over the Brexit di­vorce bill, the sec­ond phase of ne­go­ti­a­tions – ded­i­cated to the trad­ing re­la­tion­ship be­tween Bri­tain and the EU – would be de­layed by at least two months. Mr Davis is a man of great pa­tience. But, if Mon­sieur Barnier per­sists in his in­tran­si­gence, I fear the Brexit Sec­re­tary will have no op­tion but to start play­ing hard­ball.

I can see the next round of talks now … “Thank you for com­ing, Mr Davis. To re­turn to the mat­ter of the United King­dom’s fi­nan­cial obli­ga­tions. The fig­ure we seek is –”

“Sorry to butt in, Michel. Just won­der­ing. Did I ever tell you that when I was in the Ter­ri­to­rial SAS, I was trained to break a man’s leg us­ing only a sin­gle cot­ton bud?”

“No, Mr Davis, I do not be­lieve that you did. It sounds a very in­ter­est­ing story. To re­turn to the mat­ter in hand: the fig­ure we …”

“A man’s leg, Michel. Clean in two. Easy as that. With noth­ing more than a sin­gle, stan­dard is­sue, com­mon or gar­den cot­ton bud from John­son & John­son. Or su­per­mar­ket own-brand if nec­es­sary.”

“It sounds very im­pres­sive, Mr Davis. As I was say­ing, we seek a fig­ure of …”

“Do you know what I’ve got here, Michel? It’s a box of cot­ton buds.”

“In­deed it is, Mr Davis. We have them in Europe, too. The fig­ure is …”

“Look at them, Michel. Look at the cot­ton buds. Nice, aren’t they? And yet, sur­pris­ingly strong. Go on. Take one. Feel it.”

“Per­haps later, Mr Davis. The fig­ure is …”

“Michel, have you ever stran­gled a lion with your bare hands?”

“Mr Davis. I will try one more time. The fig­ure …”

“Come on, Michel. For­get all this bor­ing non­sense about fi­nan­cial obli­ga­tions. Just you and me, in the car park, right now.

“Win­ner gets full sin­gle mar­ket ac­cess with no bud­getary con­tri­bu­tions or free­dom of move­ment. What do you say?”

For his own sake, I hope Mon­sieur Barnier reads this ar­ti­cle and takes it as a warn­ing.

If he ig­nores it, he will have only him­self to blame.

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