Delaying Brexit would be a worse outcome for the UK than no deal at all, international trade secretary Liam Fox warned today.
Extending Article 50 beyond the end of March would prove “calamitous” for politicians by breaching the public’s trust, Fox said.
Meanwhile,cancelling the UK’s departure from the EU altogether would be the “worst outcome”, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“There is no doubt that leaving with a deal and minimising disruption both to the UK and our EU trading partners is in our best interest,” the minister said this morning.
“But I think the most calamitous outcome would be for parliament, having promised to respect the result of the referendum, to turn around and say it wouldn't."”
He added that MPs should consider the “political consequences” as well as the potential “short-term” economic impact.
Fox also warned that the UK won’t have some free trade deals secured as EU member states are underestimating the chance of a no-deal Brexit.
“It may not be possible to get all of (the trade deals completed) because some countries don’t yet believe that no deal is a possibility,” Fox told the BBC, speaking in Davos.
“No deal is a genuine possibility, and they need to prepare for that, because if they don’t prepare, there could be a break, even if it’s a temporary one, in the trading relationship that we have on those countries on a preferential basis.”
It comes after Fox admitted he is yet to strike a single free trade deal in case of a no-deal Brexit.
Meanwhile Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell said it is “highly likely” the party will back an amendment aiming to prevent a no-deal Brexit.
Labour MP Yvette Cooper’s amendment would give Prime Minister Theresa May until 26 February to secure parliament’s approval of a deal.
If she failed, parliament would vote on asking the EU for an extension to Article 50 through to 31 December.