Leaving the EU without a deal would be a betrayal of the people who voted Leave in the hope of a better future, Chancellor Philip Hammond has warned as pressure grew on Theresa May to rule out exiting the bloc without an agreement.
Just days before parliament resumes voting on Brexit, ministers, business leaders and trade union bosses all warned against a ‘no deal’ outcome.
Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd has demanded MPs get a free vote on a plan to delay Brexit so a deal can be struck – and three times refused to rule out resigning if May did not agree.
One member of the government, business minister Richard Harrington, even dared Theresa May to sack him for branding ‘no deal’ a “disaster”.
Despite the pressure, the Prime Minster is refusing to budge from her position that it is not possible to rule out no deal without either securing an agreement with the EU or stopping Brexit.
Speaking at a CBI lunch at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Hammond warned business leaders that failing to deliver Brexit would be a "pyrrhic victory" for those opposed to the UK's departure as it would undermine the political system.
He added: “Not leaving would be a betrayal…but leaving without a deal would undermine our future prosperity, and would equally represent a betrayal of the promises that were made.”
His comments came after the chief executive of Airbus, Tom Enders blasted the government's handling of the Brexit talks.
“It is a disgrace that, more than two years after the result of the 2016 referendum, businesses are still unable to plan properly for the future,” he said.
May held meetings with trade union leaders in Downing Street on Thursday in a bid to secure support for her Brexit plan, which was defeated in parliament earlier this month.
Unite's general secretary Len McCluskey described his meeting with the PM as "probably two and a half years too late."
TUC boss Frances O'Grady said: "The PM hasn't given us the guarantees we need on jobs or workers' rights. Tweaks aren't enough – we need substantial change to the whole deal."