POLITICS

David Davis Faces Backlash After Claims He Would Quit Cabinet Over Damian Green Porn Row

But friends of Brexit secretary say he's staying put.

01/12/2017 13:11 GMT | Updated 01/12/2017 16:35 GMT

David Davis is facing a backlash following reports he threatened to quit his cabinet role in solidarity with embattled minister Damian Green - but says he is not planning to stand down.

The First Secretary of State is under huge political pressure after a former Scotland Yard detective told BBC News “thousands” of pornographic images were found on his Parliamentary computer - an allegation the MP categorically denies. 

According to the Evening Standard, Davis made clear he would resign if Green - one of Theresa May’s key allies - were to be “unfairly sacked”.

A source close to Davis told HuffPost UK that the Brexit secretary was not likely to quit, but did feel “aggrieved” at Green’s treatment.

“David has an historic role in government and we are within touching distance of getting a major breakthrough on Brexit. Why would he walk away from that?” the source said.

“But he does feel very strongly about Damian’s treatment and aggrieved on his behalf. He’s put a metaphorical arm around Damian several times in Cabinet recently.

“His point is that when the inquiry finds Damian has not breached the ministerial code, that should be the end of it. None of this ‘no smoke without fire’ stuff. This is a line in the sand. The police should not be recycling tittle tattle about legal material found on a computer.”

One Tory MP added: “If you cross the police, they never forget. That’s what this is really about.”

PA Wire/PA Images
David Davis and Damian Green have been close for several years.

Another senior Tory MP close to Davis added: “He’s not saying if Damian goes, he goes...but they were part of the same opposition team and he wants to defend a colleague.”

Davis works closely with Green on Brexit as the the de facto deputy prime minister helps cross-government coordination of the policy, not least liaison with devolved governments.

The pair have been close since Davis was shadow home secretary and Green his shadow immigration minister.

Following Davis’s departure from the role in 2008, his colleague was arrested by the Met after a Home Office whistleblower leaked information to the Tories.

A Cabinet Office inquiry is currently underway into Green’s conduct, examining whether he breached the Ministerial Code through the alleged watching of porn, as well as claims he behaved inappropriately towards a young Tory activist.

The Standard reported a mutual friend of both Davis and Green said: “David would find it quite difficult to stay in his job and not resign if Damian was pushed out because of anything related to what happened 10 years ago.”

Labour MP Jess Phillips said the intervention by Davis was “really something”.

Women’s Equality Party leader Sophie Walker said Davis’ defence of his colleague was “extraordinary” in the wake of the sexual harassment allegations which have rocked Westminster in recent weeks, while others were quick to poke fun at him.

Green Party deputy leader Amelia Womack said the allegations against Green, if proven, were a sackable offence.

The BBC said sources close to the Brexit secretary had claimed he warned Downing Street not to sack Green, as a result of a “wrongful attempt by former officers to do him down”.

Retired police officer Neil Lewis, who has not spoken publicly before, said he examined Green’s computer during a 2008 inquiry into government leaks and was “in no doubt whatsoever” that he had accessed legal pornography “extensively”.

Friends of the minister told HuffPost UK that he was “gobsmacked” by the claims. “It is deeply concerning that a former police officer is, nine years on, putting into the public domain these smears of accessing non-illegal pornography,” one said.

A Met Police spokesperson said confidential information gathered during a police inquiry should not be made public.

“The appropriate course of action is to co-operate privately with the Cabinet Office Inquiry as the Metropolitan Police done,” the force added.

“As is routine, for cases of this nature, the circumstances of information being made public will be looked at by the Department for Professional Standards.”