Theresa May is said to be mulling a shock move to put Ben Gummer, who campaigned vociferously for Remain, in charge of the history-defining divorce talks with Brussels.
The Cabinet Office minister, who is seen by Tory insiders as a rising star in the party, made no attempt to hide his dismay when asked about the result of the June 23 referendum.
Is Ben Gummer being lined up for Brexit Secretary
His appointment in place of Mr Davis, who was a key architect of the successful Vote Leave campaign, would infuriate eurosceptics who up until now have trusted the PM to deliver a clean Brexit.
But it would be met with delight in Brussels, where the Brexit Secretary’s repeated tough talking about walking away from a bad deal has caused anger and anguish.
David Davis could be 'promoted' to Foreign Secretary
According to The Times Mr Davis would be “promoted” to the role of Foreign Secretary in such a reshuffle, with fellow Brexiteer Boris Johnson facing the prospect of being shunted out of the Cabinet.
A senior raking source within the party told the paper: “The thinking is that Ben is the brightest she’s got and Brexit is the biggest issue, so why wouldn’t you put him in there?”
Separately a Government official told Politico that Mr Davis’ position “isn’t 100 per cent” secure if the Tories win the election, further fuelling speculation he will be moved on.
However, the reshuffle could be stopped dead in its tracks because Mr Gummer, who is defending a slim majority of just 3,700 in Brexit backing Ipswich, faces the very real prospect of losing his seat.
The thinking is that Ben is the brightest she’s got and Brexit is the biggest issue
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A survey carried out by the Ipswich Star this week suggests that 34 per cent of people in the East Anglian town intend to vote for Labour compared to just 27 per cent backing the Tories.
On June 24 a glum Mr Gummer told the paper: “I am feeling sick to the pit of my stomach about the impact this will have on jobs across the country.
“I now have a massive job to work with other ministers to keep the country stable. It will be a very difficult task but I would like to assure my constituents that I will do all I can to try to help.
“But I cannot disguise the fact that this will be a very, very difficult time – and there will be affects for my constituents.”
But his feelings were a world away from those of the majority of his constituents who had just voted by 38,655 to 27,698 – 58 per cent to 42 per cent – to leave the EU.
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Mr Gummer’s potential elevation to Brexit secretary may surprise many of the PM’s critics and allies alike, given her previous insistence that a Brexiteer should be in charge of the talks.
It is expected to be the Brexit Secretary who will sit down face to face with the EU Commission’s Michel Barnier to thrash out the tricky divorce deal when the negotiations begin on June 19.
Mrs May, who voted Remain but has since embraced Brexit, said as recently as last week: “You can only deliver Brexit if you believe in Brexit. You can only fight for Britain if you believe in Britain.
“You can only deliver for Britain if you have the strength the plan and the determination to see it through.”