David Davis defends gender make-up of Brexit negotiating team

David Davis defends gender make-up of Brexit negotiating team

Brexit Secretary David Davis has hit back at suggestions that there are a lack of women in the team negotiating the UK's withdrawal from the European Union.

Mr Davis said 40% of the 98 officials who travelled to Brussels for July's round of talks were women and stressed 52% of his Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) staff are female.

Concerns over a gender imbalance emerged after photographs from the June and July negotiations showed mainly men on the UK side of the talks.

But the senior officials seen in those pictures only make up a small proportion of Britain's negotiating team, according to Mr Davis.

In an update letter to the House of Lords EU Committee, Mr Davis said: "Using the July round as an example, approximately 60% of the UK's negotiating team were men and 40% were women. This represents those from Whitehall and UKRep (UK Representation to the EU) who attended working groups or plenary meetings and is not limited to senior civil servants.

"The senior team is neither exhaustive nor necessarily fixed, as evidenced by the incorporation of Sarah Healey, Director General at DExEU, as a senior lead for the July negotiating round.

"As I say, though, this will vary from round to round as we deploy the best available staff for each issue under negotiation.

"I thought it might also be useful to include some information on the gender makeup of the department as a whole, as each member of the department is key to making the UK's exit a success.

"As of 31 July 2017, women make up approximately 52 percent of the department's workforce and men 48 percent.

"We continue to strive towards achieving diversity across the civil service, representative of modern day Britain, and as Secretary of State for DExEU, I remain committed to supporting that objective.

"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."

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