David Davis Accused of ‘Leadership Speech’ in U.K. Parliament

(Bloomberg) -- Ever since he quit the Cabinet in July in protest at U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plans, David Davis has been seen as a potential candidate to replace her.

On Wednesday, the former Brexit secretary fueled speculation about his ambitions, with a wide-ranging speech setting out his political beliefs. He covered welfare provisions, housing supply, and social mobility -- and put all these issues in the context of the Conservative Party’s true values.

The Tory vision is for a society in which there’s “no limit” to how high any person might rise on the “ladder of opportunity,” he said. But there must also be a compassionate “safety net” to catch those who struggle, Davis told Parliament during a debate on the budget.

One opposition politician, however, wasn’t impressed. “I don’t want to interrupt the right hon. gentleman in his leadership speech,” said Kevan Jones.

Davis’s decision to stand up for a quick, clean divorce from the European Union -- in defiance of May’s plan for a soft Brexit -- won him the love of the Tory grassroots, many of whom voted to leave the bloc in the 2016 referendum. Now the former Brexit secretary has started fleshing out what a Davis premiership could look like with policies well beyond the remit of his previous brief.

With May facing an ongoing threat of being ousted by her own side, Davis could soon get a chance to put his vision forward to his party.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.