WATCH: Liam Fox contradicts Theresa May on Brexit as he declares: A deal is better than no deal
Liam Fox has contradicted Theresa May by insisting that getting a Brexit deal will always be better than crashing out without any agreement.
The Prime Minister famously said "no deal is better than a bad deal" when she set out her Brexit vision at Lancaster House in 2017.
She has repeated the phrase on numerous occasions since then, insisting that she would rather take the UK out of the EU without an agreement rather than sign up to a sub-optimal deal.
But in a major split with Mrs May, International Trade Secretary Dr Fox said the precise opposite as he called on his Conservative colleagues to support her.
He said: "I hope that we all take a rational and reasonable view of this. We are not elected to do what we want, we are elected to do what is in the national interest and ultimately I hope that across Parliament we will recognise that a deal is better than no deal.
"Businesses do require certainty, confidence, as they go forward and there are those around the world who are waiting to get certainty also to begin to discuss trade agreements with the United Kingdom."
Downing Street sources insisted that there had been no change to the policy previously set out by the Prime Minister.
But critics said Dr Fox's remarks were further proof of the Government's disarray over Brexit.
Shadow Brexit minister Jenny Chapman said: "It’s good Liam Fox has finally dumped the ridiculous slogan: no deal would be better than a bad deal.
"Parliament doesn’t have to choose between bad and even worse - there are other options available in these negotiations. If Theresa May ditched her reckless red lines and reached out to the sensible majority in Parliament, she could deliver a better Brexit deal for this country.”
Labour MEP Catherine Stihler, of the Best for Britain group, said: "This is a rebuke to the hardline Brexiteers who want to push Britain over the cliff-edge.
"It demonstrates the extent of the civil war engulfing the Tory Party.
"A no-deal scenario would undoubtedly be more calamitous than a deal approved by EU member states, costing hundreds of thousands of jobs. But there is no such thing as a good Brexit deal. The only way to protect jobs and grow our economy is as part of the EU.
"Rather than trying to flog this deal that won't get through parliament, the remaining Cabinet ministers should back a people's vote with the option of remaining in the EU."