Andrea Leadsom risks cabinet splits as she talks up prospects of managed no-deal
Andrea Leadsom has risked a cabinet split by insisting the UK has nothing to fear from a so-called "no-deal Brexit".
The Commons leader, who campaigned to Leave during the EU referendum, said it could provide an alternative solution to a cliff-edge hard Brexit if MPs reject the withdrawal agreement negotiated with Brussels by Theresa May.
Her comments came just two days after Justice Secretary David Gauke told a Cabinet meeting that a managed no-deal was "not a viable option" because it was not on offer from the EU.
He added: "The responsibility of Cabinet ministers is not to propagate unicorns but to slay them."
But speaking to Radio Four's Today programme, Ms Leadsom said: “A managed no-deal where we collaborate with the European Union 27 friends and neighbours, in whose interests it is in as well that we don’t leave without a deal in March, then a managed no-deal where we accept that we have not been able to get a properly scheduled withdrawal agreement through the UK parliament would be an alternative solution that the European Union, in my opinion, might well find is also in their interests.
“A managed no-deal does not necessarily mean there is no withdrawal agreement at all. What it would in my view, and this is all speculation, but what I am looking at is trying to find an alternative in the event that we cannot agree to this deal.
“There could be a further deal that looks at a more minimalist approach but allows us to leave with some kind of deal and some kind of implementation period that avoids a cliff edge, that includes certainty for businesses and travellers.”
Ms Leadsom also shot down suggestions from Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd that there was a “plausible argument” for a second Brexit referendum should MPs vote against Mrs May’s deal.
“Well it is not government policy,” Ms Leadsom said. “I myself think it would undermine the biggest democratic exercise ever where we had a clear majority to leave the European Union and to have a second referendum would unfortunately be going back to people, telling them they got it wrong and they should try again, and I think it would be unacceptable.”