- Brexit Secretary David Davis will present the case for a “no deal” Brexit to the cabinet at the end of October.
- Davis has previously said that no deal was a “very distant possibility.”
- Other senior ministers have said no deal is “unthinkable”.
LONDON — David Davis will make the case for a “no deal” Brexit in an “upbeat” presentation to the cabinet as he attempts to change his stance
The Brexit secretary has told civil servants they should advance preparations for a scenario in which Britain leaves the European Union without a deal, The Times newspaper reported.
It comes after Davis said in an interview with German newspaper Die Welt that no deal was a “very distant possibility” and it is not the government’s “intention.”
He is expected to deliver the presentation to the cabinet next week, which could worry ministers who back a “soft” Brexit, such as Chancellor Philip Hammond.
The recognition by the Brexit secretary that he should step up plans for a no-deal scenario marks a significant change in the government’s approach, as Theresa May has so far refused to countenance it.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd told MPs earlier this week that the UK withdrawing from the EU without a deal was an “unthinkable” situation.
The prime minister told European leaders at a major summit in Brussels on Thursday night that they should create a Brexit deal they could all “stand behind and defend to our people.”
May also implied that the EU must allow talks to progress to discussions of a future relationship with the UK in order to allow further concessions to be made on the financial settlement.
However, the prime minister also privately assured EU leaders that Britain will pay for current and future liabilities amounting to around €40 billion, which would double the amount the government has pledged to pay in its “divorce bill” so far.
She told the European Council: “The clear and urgent imperative must be that the dynamic you create enables us to move forward together.”
Former environment secretary Owen Paterson was one of several former Conservative ministers who urged the prime minister to walk away from Brexit negotiations and accept no-deal on Thursday.
Paterson told BBC Radio 4’s “Today” programme that he thought it unlikely that the UK would reach a trade agreement with the EU “because they are flatly refusing to talk about it.”
The former minister said a trade agreement with the EU would be “the best destination, but what we should not be terrified of is the WTO.”
A report by the Resolution Foundation published earlier this week showed that a no-deal Brexit would cost the average British household £260 a year.
A Downing Street spokesperson told The Times: “The cabinet is regularly updated on preparations for Brexit — our objective remains to develop a deep and special partnership with our European allies, and there has been a positive response to that in Brussels at the European Council.”
Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Tom Brake said: “David Davis is having to resort to PowerPoint to explain his barmy plans for Britain’s future. He clearly hasn’t convinced the cabinet so far that he has any vision going forward.
“He’s waiting for Halloween to unveil his no deal Brexit Britain. He thinks it’s a treat, whilst everyone else is about to get tricked. I’m sure whatever he unveils will be positively spooky.”