David Davis has said that he “doesn’t know” if he’d support Boris Johnson if the former Foreign Secretary made a leadership bid for the next general election.
Davis spoke at a fringe event with Conservative Home at the party conference, and said the next Conservative leader had to be the one who’d do the “best job”, when asked by talkRADIO if he’d endorse Johnson.
“I don’t know, let’s see who the candidates are when it comes,” he said.
“One of the things that’s important is what the big issues are… when we get to the point, you pick the person who’d do the best job.”
His comments came after he said Johnson was “too personal” in his opposition to the Prime Minister’s Chequers deal.
- Read more: Boris Johnson bashes Chequers again in Telegraph column
- Read more: David Davis tells Ann Widdecombe a no-deal is 'better' than remaining in the EU
“I’m incredibly careful not to personalise this,” he said of the fact he stepped down as Brexit Secretary over his own dissatisfaction with Chequers.
“One difference I have with Boris is he’s too personal.
“Read my letter [resignation letter to the Prime Minister] - I wanted to point out the problems without being personal.
He also said the Conservatives’ chances in the next general election hinged on making a “reasonable” job of Brexit, and addressing inequality.
“Two things to determine our success in the next general election - that we make a reasonable fist of Brexit.
“We have a good amount of time between the end of Brexit, the implementation, and the election. We’ve got to address housing, incomes, inequality. I’m a red in the tooth capitalist but I don’t think the levels of inequality between managers in big businesses and shop floor workers are justified.”
Treasury's economic forecast 'prejudiced'
Watch: David Davis explains why he stepped down as Brexit secretary
Asked by Conservative Home editor and event host Paul Goodman if he believed the Treasury's predictions that a Canada-style deal would reduce GDP by 5-10%, Davis said: “No. Can the chancellor name one forecast made by the Treasury of Bank of England that was right?”
Goodman quizzed him on why he favoured the predictions of the Institute of Economic Affairs, who produced the Plan A+ report favouring a Canada-style deal, which they say could lead to a rise in GDP of up to 7%.
- Read more: Jacob Rees-Mogg: Canada-style deal should unite Leavers and Remainers
- Read more: Chequers proposal 'designed to keep us in the EU', Brexiteer economist tells Julia Hartley-Brewer
- Read more: UK will still have to pay Brussels in a no-deal Brexit scenario, says Philip Hammond
“I’m not saying I believe them either,” Davis responded.
“What economics is good for is giving you a sense of direction. If you put tariffs on the market it will reduce, but will it reduce by the level the Treasury has forecast? These forecasts are as good as the prejudice that’s put into them, and I use the word prejudice on purpose.
“When the chancellor put out those forecasts… internally the reports said they were inaccurate. That was the briefing going on inside.
“These aren’t forecasts, they’re weapons.”
'Vacuum cleaners tested in a dust-free environment'
Davis took the opportunity to mention examples of less-than-deal EU regulations, and said that the UK was “going to look at trying to make them [regulations] equivalent” so goods din’t have to be tested twice.
“European regulations on testing vacuum cleaners is that they’re tested in a dust free environment!” he said, drawing a laugh from the crowd.
“We’re better at designing regulations than the commission is.”