A silly mistake by the Brexit minister on day one of talks does not inspire optimism that his team are fully prepared for what lies ahead.
It’s the kind of thing that can happen if you believe what you read on the internet, but it’s perhaps a mistake David Davis would have preferred to avoid.
At the close of his joint press conference with the EU’s Michel Barnier following the historic first day of article 50 negotiations in Brussels, the Brexit minister summed up his approach to the talks with a quote from Winston Churchill.
Or at least, he though it was Winston Churchill. “The pessimist,” Davis said, “sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees possibility in every difficulty.”
Unfortunately, although an online search for the saying throws up any number of posts attributing the words to Britain’s wartime leader, it seems unlikely that he ever actually said them.
According to Richard Langworth, senior fellow of the Hillsdale College Churchill Project in the US, none of the quotation’s multiple online appearances “offer a source – speech, book or whatever. If [Churchill] said it, no one has produced the source.”