Sir Vince Cable has said he is “beginning to think Brexit may never happen”.
The Twickenham MP, who is widely expected to become Lib Dem leader in the coming weeks, told the Andrew Marr Show: “The problems are so enormous, the divisions within the two major parties are enormous.
“I can see a scenario in which this doesn’t happen.”
He told the BBC One show that as party leader he would keep the Lib Dem policy to give voters a say on the final exit deal because it was “designed to give a way out when it becomes clear that Brexit is potentially disastrous”.
The choice of staying in the EU would be on the final deal referendum ballot paper.
Sir Vince also said that he will publish a Lib Dem manifesto within the next few days.
He wants to work with Labour and Tory MPs to block what he regards as Theresa May’s “hard Brexit” policy.
He added he would welcome Labour moderates into the Lib Dems, telling Marr: “We have a generous policy towards refugees. If they come, they will get food and accommodation”
Asked if critics of Labour leader Mr Corbyn at risk of being ousted by left-wingers would be welcomed to the Lib Dems, Sir Vince said: “We have a generous policy to refugees and if they come they will get food and accommodation.
“I don’t know what will happen, it’s a symptom of very, very deep division.”
Mr Corbyn had a good election, Sir Vince said, but he added “there is an element of a bubble about it” because “actually he is very pro-Brexit, and a hard Brexit, and when that becomes apparent the divisions in the Labour Party will become more real and the opportunity for us to move into that space will be substantial”.
He went on: “There is an imminent issue, which is whether the Government continues to pursue the so-called hard Brexit - leaving the customs union and single market.
“We have got to work with other people, we did last week, there was a motion in Parliament led by some Labour MPs we supported, to try to head of that disastrous outcome.”
If the economy suffers, people will reconsider Brexit and “the whole question of continued membership will once again arise”.
Sir Vince also suggested he would support tax rises beyond the 1p income tax hike which the party proposed at the election to pay for health and social care.
He said: “I certainly want to shift the balance away from extreme cuts on public services, which are particularly harsh in local government, and have a bit more tax to balance it.
“I would also have more financing of public capital investment for housing.”
Sir Vince has come under fire for claiming Theresa May’s rhetoric on “citizens of nowhere” was like something from Hitler’s Mein Kampf.
He admitted he had compared her to the wrong murderous dictator: “I got my literary reference wrong - I think it was Stalin who talked about ‘rootless cosmopolitans’.”