Former chief of staff to David Davis says Theresa May is making negotiations ‘difficult’

Jeff Overs/BBC handout via REUTERS

Prime Minister Theresa May has “hamstrung” Brexit Secretary David Davis in negotiations by taking “some absolutist positions on particular issues,” according to James Chapman, former chief of staff to David Davis.

Mr Chapman said if the prime minister doesn’t move away from her stubbornness on certain positions, she would struggle to get the Brexit deal through parliament.

In its recent proposal to the EU on citizens’ rights, the government took a strong position against the jurisdiction of The European Court of Justice, Mr Chapman said this was down to the prime minister setting “a red line effectively for a conference speech that hamstrung these negotiations in my view.”

Mr Chapman thinks such red lines are counterproductive, highlighting that it would mean having to end the freedom of movement of nuclear scientists, “who are all being paid 6 figures and are paying lots of tax.”

“If she doesn’t in my view show more flexibility, show more of the pragmatism that she did demonstrate in the Home Office, she won’t get this stuff through parliament,” he added.

The former chief of staff to the Brexit secretary went on to urge Theresa May to think again about leaving the Euratom treaty, which established the European Atomic Energy Community.

“Now the government has announced its intention to withdraw from the Euratom treaty as we leave the EU and the reason for that appears to be there’s a locus for the European Court of Justice in that treaty which covers the free movement of nuclear scientists.

“Now I would have thought the UK would like to continue welcoming nuclear scientists who are all probably being paid 6 figures and are paying lots of tax.

“But we’re withdrawing from it because of this absolutist position on the European Court. I think she could show some flexibility in that area and argue actually surely we want nuclear scientists to come to this country,” he said, before going on to repeat his emphasis of the lack of parliamentary arithmetic on Theresa May’s side: “I think if she doesn’t shift on Euratom, parliament will shift it for her.”

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