The UK is heading for a ‘no deal’ Brexit, according to hardline Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg.
The prominent Tory MP insisted that leaving on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms was now likely – but said talks with Brussels should still continue.
Presenting a phone-in on LBC, he said: ‘I think we are heading to WTO and I think WTO is nothing to be frightened of.
‘I think we should carry on negotiating until the end.
‘I don’t think we necessarily need the theatrics of walking away, but the truth is that WTO is likely to be all that they will offer us.’
His comments came as government sources insisted Theresa May was ‘standing over’ her Brexit deal offer to Brussels – despite a mauling by EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier who questioned the credibility of the proposals.
Vice president of the European Parliament, Mairead McGuinness, also made it clear that Mrs May would need to abandon some of her red lines to clinch a deal.
Speaking to the BBC, she said of the proposals: ‘It’s a starting point, it’s not an end deal. I think the British Prime Minister set out red lines too early on and too deeply.
‘We are prepared to show flexibility if the British Prime Minister can show flexibility.’
Insisting the white paper was a workable compromise, defence minister Tobias Ellwood said: ‘There is no yes/yes solution here which will balance out the extreme views of the Brexiteers and the extreme views of the Remainers.
‘It is therefore essential that we have compromise. And this is exactly what the white paper does.
‘It means that for the Remainers we have access to goods and services, a deal with Europe as well. We have financial markets as well.
‘And on the Leave campaign side of things, the EU bill stops. We leave the customs union, we leave the agricultural policy, we leave the common fisheries policy, and, of course, we are able to strike our own deals.’
The comments came after Mr Barnier expressed concern that Mrs May’s proposal for a ‘facilitated customs arrangement’ opened up the risk of major fraud, additional bureaucracy and damage to EU businesses.
Meanwhile, Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom said she ‘hated’ the Chequers compromise, according to The Times which said it was quoting minutes of the Cabinet meeting at the PM’s country residence earlier in July.