Allies of former foreign secretary Boris Johnson launched a scathing attack to dismiss the former Brexit Secretary’s prospects of replacing Theresa May as Prime Minister.
Mrs May is under intense pressure as eurosceptics line up to criticise her Chequers Brexit blueprint.
Mr Davis today called for a cabinet rebellion by urging former colleagues to “exert their collective authority” as the “moment of truth” over Britain leaving the EU approaches.
With Mrs May due to attend a crucial Brexit summit in Brussels on Wednesday alongside other European leaders, Mr Davis was one of 63 MPs to sign a letter to Chancellor Philip Hammond accusing the Government of leaking an analysis painting a gloomy picture of the impact of Brexit on the economy.
However, Mr Johnson did not opt to sign the letter, and the Mail on Sunday quotes anonymous supporter as saying: “David Davis and his allies are telling everyone who will listen that he can be the “father of the nation” and deliver Brexit.
“MPs haven’t forgotten that for almost two years he was Olly Robbins’s useful idiot and was totally outmanoeuvred by the civil service.
“If he was so painfully out of his depth as Brexit Secretary, how could he possibly be considered for Prime Minister – it would be a disaster and everyone knows it.”
His words came after Tory MP Nadine Dorries backed David Davis’s intervention and suggested he should become “interim leader” to deliver Brexit.
She tweeted: “His position has always been change the policy, not the PM. Getting May out and him becoming an interim leader may be the only way to deliver Brexit and FTA (free-trade agreement).”
Mr Johnson and Mr Davis have had a frosty relationship ever since the pair quit their cabinet posts within hours of one another after the Brexit proposals were thrashed out at a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s country retreat earlier this year.
Mr Johnson walked out 15 hours after his colleague.
Mr Davis only learned the news from LBC presenter Iain Dale, who told him about it after being passed a note in the middle of a live interview.
Asked for his reaction, Mr Davis said: “Regret, really.
“I had to resign because this was central to my job and if we continue with this policy and I was still there, I’d have to present it to Parliament and the House of Commons, I’d have to present it in Europe.
“I’d have to be the champion of the policy that I didn’t believe in.
“That doesn’t work, somebody else could do a better job than me.
“I don’t think it’s central to Foreign Secretary, but there you are. It’s a pity.”
He also denied suggestions that he had tried to persuade Mr Johnson to resign at the same time as he did.
He insisted: “I didn’t coordinate this.
“I told a handful of ministers, just after I decided what to do.”