The Brexit department has said David Davis does work full-time, after earlier refusing to answer questions about the Brexit secretary's workload raised by his former chief of staff.
In an earlier version of this article, BuzzFeed News reported that DExEU would not respond to a claim that Davis has been working a three-day week.
After publication, a spokesperson for the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU), who had earlier declined to comment, told BuzzFeed News, "He's a cabinet minister, he's an MP, of course he works full-time."
The claim that Davis was not working full time on Brexit was made by his former senior adviser, James Chapman. In an astonishing series of Tweets on Tuesday, Chapman, who is now campaigning against Brexit, attacked the government's handling of the negotiations and accused his former boss of being unprepared.
DExEU initially refused to engage. Asked to comment on whether Davis worked only three days a week, the spokesperson instead referred BuzzFeed News to the Brexit secretary's remarks in an interview with Sky News earlier in the day.
In that interview, Davis said: "I’m not going to – I mean, James was a Remainer from the beginning. He was a very good chief of staff, I’m not going to criticise or argue with him on air.”
After BuzzFeed News reported that DExEU had refused to confirm or deny whether Davis works a full week, a spokesperson complained this was unfair because Davis was "obviously" kept busy with his duties as a cabinet minister and MP. The spokesperson did not provide specific details of Davis's workload.
Chapman made the claim on Twitter on Tuesday morning as the UK prepared to unveil proposals for a new customs arrangement with the EU, in the first of a series of papers intended to spell out the government’s thinking on major aspects of the Brexit negotiations.
Chapman, a former adviser to George Osborne and political editor of the Daily Mail, worked closely with Davis for a year but left the government in June. He is now a partner at the public relations firm Bell Pottinger and will soon start writing a column for The Guardian.
He has also been active on Twitter, repeatedly criticising the government’s handling of Brexit and floating a new centrist political party, the Democrats. Until now, Chapman had not been critical of his former boss.
Alex Spence is a senior political correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Alex Spence at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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