Remember when David Davis ran out on the first round of Brexit negotiations after less than an hour? Now we know a bit about what he was doing instead.
The Brexit Secretary had declared it was “time to get down to business” ahead of the talks – but then skipped the majority of the discussions.
He turned up in Brussels at 8am on July 17, spent 15 minutes having a “friendly chat” with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier and another 45 minutes in a meeting with their respective officials.
After being photographed without any papers and a quick press conference, he was on the Eurostar back to London.
A Government spokesperson told the media at the time that Davis had planned to leave early but denied that the decision was connected to a vote in Parliament.
So what did he get up to upon his return to London? Something more useful than dealing with the nitty gritty of Brexit negotiations?
Transparency documents published by DExEU last night offer us an interesting insight.
They show that on July 18 – while talks were still ongoing in Brussels – Davis had dinner with Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre:
The Brexit Secretary only reappeared in Brussels when talks finished on July 20 for a press conference which didn’t go well.
Davis was criticised by Barnier over a “lack of clarity” in the Government’s position over the divorce bill.
That’s unsurprising given the extraordinary but real possibility that he may well have spent more time speaking to Dacre than Barnier about Brexit that week.
And it might also explain why, 18 months after the referendum, he’s only just made “sufficient progress” in negotiations.
Proud of yourself, Davis?