A veteran Tory MP has told Boris Johnson to quit as prime minister if he fails to secure a trade deal with the EU.
Roger Gale, the MP for North Thanet, said Johnson’s position would be “untenable” if a deal was not reached.
Talks in recent days have failed to produce a breakthrough and Johnson has said no-deal is the most likely scenario.
Michel Barnier, the EU chief negotiator, said on Monday morning an agreement was “still possible”.
Gale, who voted Remain in the referendum, said on Monday: “If Mr Johnson fails to reach an acceptable trade agreement with the EU the prime minister will also have failed the people of the United Kingdom.
“As a lifelong member of the Conservative Party, I believe that Mr Johnson’s position as prime minister would be untenable.
“As an honourable man, he would have to make way for somebody more able to pick up the pieces, to reunite the whole country and to show the leadership that Great Britain and Northern Ireland deserves.”
The UK’s current trading arrangements with the EU expire at the end of the month, meaning any new deal would have to be in place by January 1.
If not, tariffs and quotas will apply and bureaucracy will increase, causing further damage to an economy already ravaged by coronavirus.
The need for any deal to be approved by parliament means that talks cannot continue right up until New Year’s Eve, but MPs are braced for the prospect of sitting over the festive period.
Former chief whip Mark Harper, speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour, said: “Many of us are fully anticipating it’s entirely possible we might be returning to parliament between Christmas and New Year to scrutinise this and vote it through if a deal is done.”