WATCH: Liz Truss says MPs should back no-deal instead of cancelling Brexit if they reject Theresa May's plan

Posted On: 
16th May 2019

Britain would be better leaving the European Union without a deal rather than cancelling Brexit altogether, Cabinet minister Liz Truss has said.

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury said delivering Brexit was a 'matter of trust'.
Credit: 
The House/Louise Haywood-Schiefer

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury told BBC's Newsnight that if MPs faced a "straight choice" between quitting the EU without a deal or revoking Article 50 the UK would "have to no deal".

And, in a thinly-veiled dig at some of her Cabinet colleagues, she accused those who want to rule out a no-deal exit of "saying they're prepared to never leave the European Union".

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The intervention from Ms Truss, who is considering a Tory leadership bid, comes after Theresa May confirmed that she will put the Withdrawal Agreement Bill to a Commons vote next month.

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay told a Lords Committee on Wednesday that rejecting the deal again would leave it "dead" and force the Commons to decide whether to go for "a no-deal option or whether it will revoke" Article 50.

Ms Truss said her "ideal option" would be to leave the EU with a deal.

"But I would agree that if we face a straight choice between revoking Brexit and no dealing we have to no deal," she added. "It's a matter of trust."

"People expect us to have already left the EU.

"And if we haven't done that by October the 31st I fear there'll be real consequences and not just for our politics but also for our economy. And we're living in a kind of purgatory at the moment, waiting for something to happen."

The Treasury minister also downplayed warnings from her own department about the impact of leaving the EU without an agreement, arguing that the Government could "minimise" a hard exit.

She said: "If Parliament fails to take a decision and we are left with the choice of revoking Brexit, of not doing Brexit, and no deal, I would rather have no deal.

"We have done preparations for no deal. I agree there'll be an impact, we're trying to minimise that impact as much as possible.

"But those people who rule out no deal who say 'we've got to take no deal off the table'? They're simply saying they're prepared to never leave the European Union."

The Cabinet minister's comments come amid predictions that the new Brexit Party - which is running on a no-deal Brexit platform - could batter the Conservatives at this month's European elections.

The Telegraph meanwhile reports that Tory chairman Brandon Lewis has told the party's EU election candidates that they have little chance of being voted in later this month.

He is said to have told them that if "you are not an MEP already you aren’t winning".