Brexit secretary David Davis: Speculation Philip Hammond is being lined up to take over from Theresa May is "self-indulgent"

Emma Haslett
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The Chancellor And Minister For Exiting The European Union Meet Financial Service Executives
The Brexit secretary said rumours Hammond is being lined up to take over from May is "nonsense" (Source: Getty)

Brexit secretary David Davis has slammed colleagues speculating about Theresa May's leadership, calling the "self-indulgent".

Asked by Andrew Marr whether another leadership contest would be catastrophic to the Tories, Davis responded: "Yes. I happen to think we've got a very good Prime Minister."

Davis was responding to reports Tory insiders were lining up Chancellor Philip Hammond to replace Theresa May as a "caretaker leader" before the Conservative Party conference in October.

The reports suggested David could join forces with the Chancellor to oust the Prime Minister, with a minister telling the Sunday Times:

"The PM's brand is so damaged it is painful. The calculation that people are beginning to make is that she is so inadequate we can't wait two years with her in place."

However, Davis told Marr: "I want a stable backdrop to this Brexit negotiation. My message to [rebel MPs] is: get on with the day job. The more self-indulgent nonsense you go in for, the more difficult you make it to do my job.

"Our job is to support the PM and make Brexit work, not anything else."

Davis also suggested a transitional period of one or two years after Brexit negotiations conclude was more likely than the four years called for by the Chancellor.

"He and I have discussed this weekly since before Christmas," he said.

Questioned on May's insistence that "no deal is better than a bad deal", Davis admitted the UK may walk away from negotiations with the European Union if it does not get what it wants.

"[No deal] would be better than a punishment deal," he said.

"I that happens then [we will] walk away and we have to plan for that."