The Shadow Home Secretary told Davis to “fuck off” on Wednesday after he tried to kiss her following the historic Commons vote backing Brexit.
Davis was said to have leaned in and attempted a light-hearted embrace - at the Strangers’ Bar in the Commons - to praise Abbott for backing the Government’s bill to trigger the UK’s exit from the EU. Abbott reportedly recoiled from Davis.
According to the Mail on Sunday, Davis later exchanged texts with a Tory colleague regarding the incident.
The newspaper reported that the friend texted Davis, saying: “Cannot believe you made an attempt to give DA (Diane Abbott) a hug!”
The Cabinet minister is said to have replied: “Didn’t, but the myth grows. I whispered in her ear ‘Thanks for your vote’ hence the ‘F off’. I am not blind.”
The newspaper reported that the colleague then wrote: “Ha! Ha! Thank God you aren’t blind. Great week for you and Brexit!”
Finally, in what appears to be a reference to the Specsavers advert in which people with bad eyesight make embarrassing mistakes, Davis texted: “Actually it would make a good Optical Express advert ... Yes, a reasonable success.”
A spokesman for Davis told the Evening Standard that the Brexit secretary respected Abbott and had been joking, saying: “This was a self-evidently jocular and private exchange with a friend.
“The Secretary of State is very sorry for any offence caused to Miss Abbott, someone he has known and respected for many years.”
Labour MP Jess Phillips hit out at Davis following the text message revelations, branding him a “vile, sexist man”.