Warning the continuing negotiations will not be easy, Conservative peer Lord Hamilton of Epsom stressed the need to keep all options open – including the threat of no deal.
Failing to do so would undermine the UK’s position in the upcoming talks, he argued.
The former MP told peers at Westminster: “No deal will affect the EU as well. And, as they sell one-and-a-half times as much to us as we do to them, if there were any adverse effects of a no deal they would be felt more powerfully in the EU than in the UK.”
He added: “If we want a good deal we have to have the threat of no deal permanently there.”
Warning of difficult times ahead, Lord Hamilton said: “We started off these negotiations rather like someone playing tennis on a vicarage lawn, lobbing soft furry balls over the net.
“Unfortunately, what came back were cricket balls hurled with vehemence… designed to injure and break bones.”
Negotiating with the EU, he said, “is not going to be easy in any circumstances”.