However Paul McGrade who has worked at the Foreign Office, the European Commission in Brussels and the Cabinet Office as advisor on EU treaty negotiations, believes any deal may fail to get through parliament and wants to “abandon” the idea of a ‘divorce bill’.
The UK officially leaves the EU on March 29, 2019, but will stay within the bloc through an ‘implementation phase’ until December 31, 2020.
Writing in The Telegraph, Mr McGrade said: “These MPs are focusing on the wrong target. Instead of trying to secure the route to Canada in the political text, which will sit alongside the legal exit deal, Brexiteers should instead actively seek a ‘blind’ Brexit.
“The UK will leave, but without hostages to fortune on the future beyond the transition period.
“Settle up, and – if you can get the Parliamentary majority for it in future – walk away into a Canada-style free trade deal.”
The future relationship with the EU largely depends on the issue of the border in Ireland, which the bloc has proposed if Northern Ireland leaves the customs union with the rest of the UK.
Mr McGrade states a hard Brexit “is the biggest threat to the Union with Northern Ireland”.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We have made good progress in the negotiations in relation to the withdrawal agreement but there are substantial issues still to be overcome in relation to the Northern Irish backstop.”
With “intense” negotiations expected a breakthrough is needed ahead of the next summit with the EU27 which is expected later this month only if negotiations progress.
The European Council said: “Michel Barnier explained that intense negotiating efforts continue, but an agreement has not been reached yet.
“Some key issues remain under discussion, in particular a solution to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.”
The idea of a ‘backstop’ is something Mr McGrade supports “Brexiteers should accept a Northern Ireland-specific backstop” as they would still be part of the UK despite being in different customs unions.
He added: “The ultimate constitutional guarantee remains, enshrined in the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement and in UK law: Northern Ireland can only leave the UK if a majority of its voters so decide.”
Ireland’s deputy prime minister Simon Coveney told reporters in Brussels said there was “still clearly work to do” to reach an agreement.
Leading Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg said: ”One is the risk of an accidental leadership election and the other is an accidental departure from the European Union without any agreement having been made.”
Labour party defence spokesperson Nia Griffith said on Sunday: “We’ve said very clearly that we do not want a situation of no deal, we’ve also said very clearly that we cannot be voting for a bad deal or a blind Brexit.”