David Davis has proudly recounted the day a newspaper called him a “charming bastard” - but falsely claimed the story was on the front page.
The Brexit Secretary was asked by a reporter in Washington if he felt more welcome in America than Brussels, given EU divorce talks were growing so tense.
Davis used the opportunity to tell of a story the Financial Times published in the 1990s in which a Portuguese foreign minister called him “the master of constructive obstruction” and a “charming bastard”.
He claimed the story was a front page splash, but the only discovered reference to him being a “charming bastard” was in fact on page 19, according to the BBC, and it also appeared that Davis made the comments about himself.
Labour has labelled his appearance in the US as “like an episode of The Thick Of It.”
The FT story came at the time of the Amsterdam treaty when Davis was Europe Minister and Britain was battling to define its role in the EU as the bloc sought closer integration.
Davis said: “When, at the end of a long negotiation on the Amsterdam treaty, the British press tried to get all the other players in the negotiation to say something disobliging about me.
“They found that they couldn’t get it because actually I take the view that you may argue but there is no reason not to be friends.
“Eventually. however, they did get one of my fellow negotiators to give a comment on me.
“The FT got him to say something, he said: ’well, David is a master of constructive obstruction, he is a charming bastard.
“So the headline on the front page of the FT was ‘Charming Bastard’ but actually I was rather proud of it because I had to be both: charming and sometimes difficult.”
Davis, who was beaten to the Conservative Party leadership by David Cameron, also Davis also crowed about his political nickname “Lazarus”.
He earned it after resigning as an MP over civil liberties legislation but being reelected shortly after.
“This isn’t the first time I have negotiated in Brussels. You wouldn’t have a reason to know this but basically, in British political terms, my second name is Lazarus: I come back from the dead.”
Alison McGovern, Labour MP, said: “David Davis went to Washington hoping to look statesmanlike, but he leaves it looking like an extra from an episode of The Thick of It.”