A Conservative Brexiteer MP has said that his reason for supporting Boris Johnson’s deal is that it will keep a no-deal Brexit on the table in the long run.
Clarifying that he sees the spectre of no-deal as a negotiating tool rather than something he actually wants, MP John Baron pointed to next stage of the negotiations.
“The reason that’s important is, by leaving no-deal on the table, it makes a good trade deal in those negotiations up to December 2020 more likely to succeed,” the MP for Maldon told BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme.
The remarks prompted pro-People’s Vote MP Guto Bebb to say Baron had “let the cat out of the bag”.
If the UK leaves the EU with Boris Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement, the UK’s next deadline with the bloc is to develop a free trade agreement.
Baron, who supports the Leave Means Leave campaign, said he believes a new no-deal scenario would be effective in focusing minds.
Asked if this was just a vote for a delayed no-deal Brexit, Baron said: “I think most of us in parliament prefer a good deal to no deal.
“But many of us also accept the reality of life when negotiating if you leave no-deal on the table, that helps to make for a better deal when you’re talking about a trade deal up to December 2020.
“And because that possibility exists after December 2020, I think it will focus minds within the negotiations and we’ll get a good trade deal. That is our hope.”
Reacting to the comments, Guto Bebb, MP for Wrexham, said: “John Baron let the cat out of the bag.
“He admits that he and many of his fellow ideologues in the extremist Conservative faction of the ERG are supporting Boris Johnson’s Brexit proposals only because they see it as the fastest way to fulfil their no-deal fantasies.”
Liberal Democrat shadow Brexit Secretary Tom Brake said: “Conservative Brexiter John Baron’s comments make it clear that Johnson’s Brexit deal would not only be bad for our economy, our NHS and our environment, but it would also open us up to a potential no-deal Brexit next year. It is a Trojan horse.
“We know that a no-deal Brexit would be absolutely catastrophic. No-one wanting to avoid this scenario should even consider voting for this back door no-deal Brexit.
“Liberal Democrats know that any form of Brexit would be bad for the UK. That is why we will continue to fight to stop Brexit and give the people the final say, including the option to stay in the EU.”