Another minister has said there are senior figures in the EU who think Britain is reluctant to leave.
It comes amid growing discontent within the party at Theresa May’s leadership on Brexit ahead of a key conference speech on Wednesday in which she will attempt to pull warring factions together.
Mr Davis told friends he plans to “retire” in 2019 when the UK leaves the union, sparking fears the move will trigger a reshuffle and a potential leadership challenge.
Asked why he does not plan to stay on during the transitional period Mr Davis said “someone else… Boris Johnson” can deal with the two year period after the UK leaves.
A source close to the Brexit secretary said Mr Davis believes his job will be complete in June 2019 having delivered the UK’s exit from the union. After this point his department will take a back seat and he will stand aside.
They added: “This was a lighthearted remark underlining the fact that we will be leaving the EU in March 2019.”
But allies of Mr Davis have called on him to act as interim leader if Mrs May is forced out after Britain leaves to act as a steady pair of hands while a new leadership candidate is found.
The Brexit secretary told friends Mr Johnson should deal with the transitional period, which could also open the way for the foreign secretary to make his own pitch to be Prime Minister.
He also claimed Mr Johnson is now “back inside the tent” and has been “tied to the tent pole” to stop him from making trouble for Mrs May.
It came after he wrote a 4,000 word article setting out his red lines on Brexit, angering allies of Theresa May who saw the piece as a direct challenge to her leadership.
One ally told this paper Mr Davis sees Brexit as “his legacy” and “the one thing he will be remembered for”. He wants the deal to be good for the UK and for it to be an easy transition, they added.
But ministers have cast doubt over how well talks are progressing amid fears Britain has not flexed its muscles enough during negotiations.
Some have suggested Mr Davis needs to make it clearer that the UK is prepared to walk away without a deal in order to focus minds.
Mr Davis told friends: “He [Barnier] needs this to work much more than I do… I’m retiring after this, he’s not!”
Asked whether that would be in June 2019 he said “yes”, before claiming that “someone else” can deal with the transition period, adding: “Boris can do that!”
Westmonster Dave is the News Editor of Kipper Central.