Former Brexit minister and BBC presenter under fire for swapping jokes about a man punching his wife

David Davis and John Humphrys have come under criticism for sharing jokes about an alleged domestic

David Davis and John Humphrys have come under criticism for sharing jokes about an alleged domestic violence incident. - Credit: Archant

David Davis and the BBC's John Humphrys shared a chummy joke in an interview, making light of an incident in which a man allegedly punched his wife before a tango contest.

The former minister for exiting the European Union was invited onto BBC Radio 4's Today programme to discuss Brexit when the pair joked about their "last tango".

They appeared to be referencing an alleged domestic violence incident in Buenos Aires, when a dancer in the World Tango Championships was disqualified for punching his partner.

The story was the last item in a news round-up preceding Humphrys' interview with Davis, and the former minister started out with the quip "I guess this is our last tango," which drew a laugh from Humphrys.

"I promise not to punch you if you don't punch me," joked Humphrys in return, as the pair of them giggled, before getting into the interview.

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David Davis even came back to the joke as they rounded things up. "Our last tango was very pleasant and neither of us punched each other."

Numerous commentators weighed in on the shared joke, including Sky News' Kay Burley. "I really, really like John Humphrys. I really, really don't like him making jokes about a woman being punched by her dance partner."

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Twitter user Louise Ashworth said: "Yep, really funny to joke about a man punching his wife. Cannot believe it, John Humphrys and David Davis."

Others took issue with the cosy tone of the whole interview, in which Humphrys gave little challenge to any of Davis' assertions, including rubbishing the Yellowhammer report and saying that the civil service is biased towards Remain.

"The Yellowhammer stuff ... was rubbish," said Davis, adding that he believed its authors hadn't consulted DX-EU. "This is the worst case, the worst case they could come up with. It's not a prediction."

"So is this a civil service conspiracy then?" mused Humphrys. "No, no," said Davis. "I mean .. what you've got here, I've always resisted these attacks ... because they're all doing what they think is best for the country. Now, they have a different perspective. I mean, they're basically mostly Remainers, so they view this as a risk minimisation exercise. Whereas a Leaver, somebody who voted to leave, will be saying 'actually how do we make the most of the opportunities'."

This went entirely unchallenged by Humphrys who allowed Davis to move on, to talk about how manageable the risk is.

Humphrys has announced his retirement from the Today programme presenting role, which he has held since 1987. He has said he will leave before the end of the year but has not yet announced a date.

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