David Davis defends Brexit team gender balance

British and EU officials on the first day of Brexit talks last monthImage copyright
Reuters

Brexit Secretary David Davis has defended the gender balance in his negotiating team, after questions about the number of women involved.

Writing to a House of Lords committee, Mr Davis said 40% of his team in last month’s round of talks had been women.

Committee members had said photos showing a largely male line-up were “a disgrace” and “shameful”.

Mr Davis said the government strived to make the civil service “representative of modern-day Britain”.

In his letter to the House of Lords EU Committee, he said the personnel involved would “vary from round to round as we deploy the best available staff for each issue under negotiation”.

He also said 52% of all staff at his Department for Exiting the EU (DExEU) were women.

“I will also continue to work for the best possible deal for the UK during these negotiations, and that means using the best expertise we have available to support the negotiation in DExEU and across Whitehall, regardless of gender or any other factor,” he added.

Gender balance questions were raised last month, when Mr Davis appeared before the committee, with Labour member Baroness Kennedy demanding to know how many women were in the negotiating team.

‘Calamity’

Labour MPs then wrote to Prime Minister Theresa May, urging her to review the line-up and warning the talks were becoming “just another job for the boys”.

Formal Brexit negotiations are under way, with the UK scheduled to leave the EU in March 2019.

Mr Davis’s former chief of staff, meanwhile, has described Brexit as the “biggest calamity” facing the UK since World War Two.

In a series of tweets, James Chapman called for “sensible” MPs to join forces to reverse the process, if necessary by forming a new party.

He said businesses would “flee” the UK once it left and “revenues collapse”.

Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage tweeted: “Which side was Mr Chapman really working for in the Brexit department?”

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