Amber Rudd has said it would be “unthinkable that there would be no deal” between the UK and the EU as yet another Cabinet split on Brexit emerged.
The Home Secretary told a committee of MPs on Tuesday that while it was right for government to “make plans just in case” Brexit talks fail it was “highly unlikely”.
Her comments came moments after Brexit Secretary David Davis told the Commons a no deal option had to be kept on the table.
Davis also accused the EU of effectively stalling negotiations to “get more money” out of the UK in the financial settlement - a claim later backed by Downing Street.
Brussels is refusing to move talks on to a future trade agreement until a deal is reached on how much money the UK will pay to settle its existing financial commitments.
The stalemate has increased the possibility of the UK leaving the EU in March 2019 without a trade deal - a scenario that could drive up the cost of living for the UK’s poorest families by £500-a-year.
Asked by Home Affairs Select Committee chair Yvette Cooper whether Britain would be “as safe and secure” after Brexit with no deal in place, Rudd replied: “I think it is unthinkable that there would be no deal.
“It is so much in their interests as well as ours – in their communities, families, tourists’ interests to have something in place.
“We will make sure there is something between them and us to maintain our security.“
Rudd also told the Committee it was “unthinkable” that EU citizens currently living in Britain would be asked to leave.
However she was unable to completely guarantee that they would be allowed to remain.
Just minutes before in the Commons chamber, Davis was talking up the importance of preparing for ‘no deal’.
He said: “The maintenance of the option of no deal is both for negotiating reasons and sensible security. Any government doing its job properly will do that.”
When discussing the stalemate in the Brexit talks, Davis said: “They are using time pressure to get more money out of us. Bluntly, that is what’s going on. It’s obvious to anybody.”
The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman later supported the Brexit Secretary’s claim, saying: “David Davis speaks on behalf of the Government.”
This morning a report released by the Resolution Foundation think-tank warned dairy, meat and clothes prices will soar if the UK is unable to strike a trade deal with the EU.
Some Tory MPs have said the UK has nothing to fear from a no deal Brexit - despite a report from the Resolution Foundation think-tank warning dairy, meat and clothes prices will soar if there is no trade deal with the EU.
Anti-Brexit Tories Anna Soubry and Nicky Morgan told Leave campaigners in their own party to face “reality” over no deal as MPs debated the progress of the UK’s exit from the EU.
Sitting in the back row of the government benches, the pair took on former Cabinet minister Owen Paterson and ex-Pensions Minister Shailesh Vara after an update on the negotiations was given.
Labour MP Chuka Umunna, a leading supporter of the Open Britain campaign group, said Rudd and Davis’ comments showed the government was “in total chaos over their threat to leave the EU with no deal”.
“The Home Secretary is absolutely right to say leaving with no deal would be unthinkable, but she was contradicted just minutes earlier by the Brexit Secretary who continues to insist that the threat must be kept in place,” he said.
“Cabinet division is increasing the likelihood of our country crashing out of the EU with an extreme, destructive Brexit that would put jobs at risk.”