Is it really leaving? 'I don't think so,' says Davis

Laura Kuenssberg
Political editor
@bbclaurakon Twitter

  • Published
Media caption,

In full: Davis interview with Kuenssberg

Is it really leaving at all?

"I don't think so."

Forget the politicking and the crazy, bitter briefings.

If the past few weeks has been like watching the Conservative Party have a nervous breakdown in front of our eyes, this morning they are truly losing the plot.

Set aside the psychodrama about minicab cards, late night phone calls, toasts over dinner at Chequers, a foreign secretary no one can find. More of that later no doubt.

What sticks out the most from my interview with David Davis this morning is a very simple question we asked. Is the prime minister's plan really leaving the EU?

"I don't think so", he said.

That is the sentiment that's widely shared among the Tory party, and perhaps among many voters too. And guess what? It doesn't always matter which side of the referendum they were on either.

Some former Remainers say "look, this is a dodgy compromise, what's the point? If we are going to do this, then for goodness sake let's do it properly or just stay in".

From some Leavers, like Mr Davis, you also get "look, this is a dodgy compromise, what's the point? If we are going to do it, then for goodness sake let's do it properly".

Yes, I did mean to write the same line twice just then. We are a million miles from Tory unity, but weirdly there is some agreement at the fringes of the party that the current compromise is, as compromises so often are, something that pleases hardly anyone.

And it would be better for No 10 just to go the "full Norway", a close relationship with the EU not a Viking experience, or the "Canada plus", a free trade agreement not a ten-day tour of the Rockies, or frankly, not leave at all.

David Davis' resignation on its own - so far - is not going to bring down the government. It could well unleash a host of events that leads us to that place, but we're still a long way from that.

But what it does do is take the lid off the boiling pot of frustration, angst, ambition and despair you find in pockets of the governing party and a sense on both sides that this kind of Brexit might not be worth it. That's not to say most Tory MPs are in the mood for a giant ruckus.

Most of them in fact probably back the Chequers compromise, grateful at last that the Cabinet - well most of them - found agreement.

And believing, quite possibly correctly, that the vast majority of the public aren't paying attention to much of the flouncing in any case, so can ministers please, please, please, please, get on with it and just shut up.

For Number 10, the Chequers plan is a clever enough compromise they believe can get the EU on to the next phase of negotiations.

Remember - all of this is happening in order that officials can get down to actually negotiating the nitty-gritty of the long term relationship.

It is perfectly possible that within 72 hours or so it is situation normal, well normal-ish.

But David Davis was an "active backbencher", who delighted in making waves on the issues he cares about for many years.

If he thinks Theresa May's Brexit does not mean Brexit, expect plenty of trouble ahead even if today's particular storm passes before the heat wave breaks.