If it had been left to Labour, an open-ended blank cheque in favour of Brussels would already have been signed and sealed.
Yet, while the Haltemprice and Howden MP finds himself in a game of brinkmanship like no other in recent political history, he can’t hide from the fact that the talks have not gone to plan ahead of this week’s summit of European leaders – the residency rights of EU nationals were supposed to have been settled by now.
And the Government won’t be helped by Bill Clinton claiming that the Brexit vote was about people thinking differences are more important that what they have in common, or by the OECD saying that a second referendum would have a “positive” and “significant” impact on the UK economy if Britain chose to stay in the EU.
With inflation growing, these interventions heap pressure on Theresa May, and Mr Davis, following this week’s soirée with the EU counterparts Jean-Claude Juncker and Michel Barnier. Some say the Prime Minister made too many financial concessions with her Florence speech, while critics say she did not go far enough.
Either way, Mrs May needs to start leading from the front rather than presiding over the growing disarray in her Cabinet. She has the authority to take decisions – those inferior to her do not. When Tony Blair was involved in talks over the Northern Ireland peace process, his mere presence changed the dynamics of the talks and he could provide leadership.
It’s the same now. Brexit is Mrs May’s number one priority and a more hands-on approach might lessen the chance of Chancellor Philip Hammond, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and others conducting their own freelance diplomacy and, by doing so, making a final agreement less likely.