Educated at Bec Grammar School, Tooting, the University of Warwick, London Business School and Harvard, Mr Davis spent almost two decades working in business. He was elected to represent Boothferry (later Haltemprice and Howden), serving as a Government Whip and a Minister in the Foreign Office, rising to Shadow Home Secretary. His leadership of Tory opinion over identity cards marked the beginning of his civil libertarian advocacy in Parliament.
In 2005 he ran for the Party leadership and was runner-up to David Cameron. He remained Shadow Home Secretary until 2008, when he notably resigned his seat to be re-elected on a civil libertarian platform, though retaining the Conservative whip, protesting the extension of detention-without-charge from 28 to 42 days. He has become known as an outspoken critic of both Labour and Conservative policies regarding civil liberties, most recently registering his opposition to the "snoopers charter" as proposed by the Home Secretary.