Tory Brexiteer Steve Baker has warned that more than 40 of his colleagues are ready to vote down Theresa May’s EU negotiation plan - and send the UK crashing out of the EU with no trade deal in place.
EU states have reportedly been told to step up preparations for a ‘no deal’ scenario, while some ministers have dubbed the prospect “unthinkable” and “catastrophic”.
But Brexiteers haven’t always talked up ‘no deal’ as an outcome - in fact, quite the opposite.
We’ve taken a look back at five occasions on which pro-Leave MPs downplayed the likelihood of the UK failing to strike a pact with Brussels.
1. No plan for ‘no deal’
Just a year ago, Boris Johnson - who resigned as Foreign Secretary earlier this month over the PM’s Brexit plan - boasted that the government had no plan for ‘no deal’ because it was going to secure “a great deal”.
The then-Cabinet minister was slapped down by Downing Street, with a spokesperson assuring reporters that the government was planning “for all eventualities”.
2. Still no plan for ‘no deal’
Despite Johnson’s slap on the wrist, just one month later then-Defence Secretary Michael Fallon echoed his claims, telling the Today programme: “We are working for a deal. We are not planning for a no deal. We are working flat out for a deal.”
3. ‘One of the easiest deals in human history’
International Trade Secretary Liam Fox bragged in July 2017 that the free trade agreement the UK would need to come to with the EU should be “one of the easiest in human history”.
Explaining that the two states already have the same rules and laws, the Tory MP told the BBC: “The only reason we wouldn’t come to a free and open agreement is because politics gets in the way of economics.”
4. Push back on ‘no deal’ preparations
Following in the footsteps of his Tory colleagues, David Davis appeared to dismiss the likelihood of the UK leaving the EU without an agreement when he complained to Theresa May about preparations by Brussels for such a scenario.
Davis - who also resigned from his post as Brexit Secretary in July - wrote to Theresa May to warn her that EU officials were damaging British interests by talking up the threat of ‘no deal’ to companies, adding that he had sought legal advice over the issue.
5. Davis ‘pretty sure’ of a free trade deal
Davis’ letter to the PM was not the only time he appeared to downplay the likelihood of a cliff-edge exit from the union for the UK.
While he admitted to the BBC he was not “certain” the government could get a free trade deal, he insisted he was still “pretty sure”, adding that other EU states “have a very strong interest in getting a good deal”.
However, he added that the UK had to be prepared to walk away if it was only offered a “punishment deal”.
Francis Grove-White, deputy director of pro-EU campaign group Open Britain, said a ‘no deal’ Brexit would be “a catastrophe for this country”.
“It would mean ripping up 40 years of complex cooperation with the EU and throwing it in the bin with absolutely nothing to replace it. It would mean punishing tariffs for our businesses, disrupted supply chains for food and medicines, huge traffic jams at the border and massive uncertainty for millions of citizens,” he told HuffPost UK.
Calling for a referendum on the terms of the final Brexit deal, Grove-White added: “The people pushing hardest for a no deal Brexit want to fundamentally reshape our country so they can rip up the rights we all hold dear, such as protections for workers, the environment and our NHS. This must not be allowed to happen.”