George Eustice MP praised the civil service for doing a “sterling job preparing” for a no deal Brexit and urged the nation to “have the courage to take our freedom first and talk afterwards”. The Tory Brexiteer said the UK had given Brussels bosses the impression “that we believe we can only do what the EU grants us permission to do”. Writing for Conservative Home, he said: “Instead, we needed to behave like an independent country.
“Rather than asking ourselves how we might accommodate EU concerns and demands, we should have been asking ourselves how we could face down their demands.
“The civil service has done a sterling job preparing for no deal.”
His intervention comes as Theresa May faces the toughest test of her premiership to get her Brexit deal across the line during a House of Commons vote on Tuesday.
Mrs May sparked fury last month when she announced she would be holding a vote on ruling out a no-deal Brexit in March if MPs vote to reject her deal.
The Tory leader also bowed to pressure from pro-Europe Cabinet members and offered Parliament a chance to vote to delay Brexit if her deal is rejected again.
But Mr Eustice said a no deal must not be taken off the table.
He added: “If the Prime Minister’s deal does not pass next week, we must have the courage to take our freedom first and talk afterwards.
“We must not take No Deal off the table; instead, we should embrace no deal. The EU has stated in terms that they will not even discuss a future partnership until after we have left.
“As always, this is dressed up as some kind of legal problem, but it’s deliberate. So let’s take them at face value and, if necessary, just head for the exit.
“No deal is a bit of a misnomer anyway. It doesn’t mean no deal for evermore.
“What it really means is do deal yet. In effect, it would morph into an informal nine month transition period, during which talks could continue and we could conclude a deal.”
The Tory leader today delivered a speech in Leave-voting Grimsby where she warned that the UK would be plunged into uncertainty and may never leave the European Union if MPs reject the Brexit deal.
In a warning ahead of Tuesday’s Commons showdown on her Withdrawal Agreement, she acknowledged “no one knows” what will happen if her plan is defeated.
The Prime Minister is urging Brussels to give ground in order to help her deal survive Tuesday’s crunch vote by agreeing changes to the Northern Ireland backstop measures.
During a speech, she said: “Next week MPs in Westminster face a crucial choice: Whether to back the Brexit deal or to reject it.
“Back it and the UK will leave the European Union. Reject it and no one knows what will happen.
“We may not leave the EU for many months, we may leave without the protections that the deal provides. We may never leave at all.”