Mr Davis has been the public face of Britain’s Brexit negotiations team since talks began last year but concerns have been raised about the true nature of his role when Phase Two talks begin.

Meanwhile Olly Robbins, the former civil servant in charge of the UK’s Department for Exiting the EU (Dexeu) who now runs Brexit negotiations from the Cabinet Office, is allegedly shouldering more responsibility for Brexit progress as talks move on.

Four months ago Mr Robbins left Dexeu, along with many of his staff and, according to reports, has taken the main responsibility for ensuring Brexit’s progress with him.

A spokesman for Theresa May tried to allay concerns about Davis’ diminishing role by telling reporters: “The prime minister is in charge of the negotiations, David Davis is the chief negotiator, and Olly Robbins is the civil service lead, advising the PM and the secretary of state Mr Davis.”

However, EU officials are reportedly aware that Mr Davis is being increasingly left on the fringes of Brexit talks.

Mujtaba Rahman, lead Europe analyst at Eurasia Group, a risk consultancy, told the FT the “growth in Olly’s operation and the hollowing out of Dexeu has not gone unnoticed in Brussels and Berlin”.

He said: “Officials there are questioning what Davis’ and Dexeu’s precise role will be in phase two.” 

One senior civil servant in London concurred that Mr Robbins is the key interlocutor, saying: “Olly was clearly the person who negotiated the agreement in Brussels on phase one.”

Last month it emerged Mr Robbins had held talks with Michel Barnier the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, without Mr Davis.

It comes after allies of Mr Davis suggested he could quit over frustration at being frozen out of key strategic talks on the UK’s divorce from the European Union.

Mr Davis, who is known as “DD” and is a vocal supporter of Brexit, previously quit as Shadow Home Secretary in a sudden move under David Cameron’s leadership in 2008.

According to allies of Mr Davis, the Prime Minister has been “captured” by Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood and Oliver Robbins.

One ally of the Brexit Secretary told the Telegraph: “The officials are forming a phalanx around the PM and they are trying to cut DExEu out the loop and move the centre of gravity to Number 10. DD is becoming increasingly frustrated.

“People forget DExEu does not actually formulate policy – the policy is all formulated in the Exiting the EU Cabinet committee.

“All DExEU does is act as an executive for the policy which is formed elsewhere.”

Daily Express

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