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