Former Cabinet minister urges Theresa May to walk away from Brexit talks if deadlock continues
Theresa May should walk away from her negotiations with the European Union if Brussels does not agree to move onto trade talks at a crunch summit next month, according to a former Brexit minister.
David Jones - who also served as Welsh Secretary in David Cameron's Cabinet - said there was "nothing to be gained by continuing to flog a dead horse" if the ongoing deadlock continues.
The EU has insisted that the second phase of negotiations will not begin until sufficient progress has been made on the Irish border, citizens' rights and the bill that Britain must pay when it leaves.
A decision on that will be taken at a meeting of the EU Council in Brussels on 14 and 15 December.
Clwyd West MP Mr Jones - who campaigned for a Leave vote in the EU referendum - said the Prime Minister should call the EU's bluff.
He said: "At the December Council, the Prime Minister should insist that the EU now agree to begin trade talks without further delay. The UK has shown outstanding patience and goodwill since serving the Article 50 notice. It is high time the EU stopped its prevarication.
"If the Prime Minister does not receive confirmation that the EU will now start talking seriously about the future relationship, we should tell them we are suspending negotiations until they are ready to do so. There is nothing to be gained by continuing to flog a dead horse."
Labour MP Stephen Doughty MP, of the pro-EU Open Britain campaign group, said: "David Jones’ comments are a counsel of despair, and it would be a disaster for this country if the Prime Minister followed his advice.
"The Government and their Brextremist cheerleaders only have themselves to blame for the deadlock in the Brexit talks, and abandoning them to leave the EU with no deal at all would be catastrophic. Lorries would be gridlocked at our ports amid customs chaos, security cooperation would end, and trade would be conducted on punishing WTO terms.
"Leave campaigners like Mr Jones told us that Brexit would be easy. Now it turns out it is mind-bogglingly complicated and is already damaging our economy. The British public should not be railroaded into a hard and destructive Brexit."