CNN World News Actuality By Claire Evren-The Department for Exiting the European Union said: “We are approaching these negotiations in a constructive way and in a spirit of friendship and cooperation. We want a deep and special partnership and believe it is in everyone’s interest to discuss this. We are optimistic about achieving this, but it is the duty of a responsible government to plan for a range of scenarios.”
Brexiteer ex-Cabinet ministers today warned Tory rebels that defeating the Government on the final deal could trigger a snap election.
The American Chambers of Commerce to the EU said leaving with no deal would have “potentially devastating consequences”. It added: “Companies would subsequently be forced to make difficult decisions regarding their investments and trading arrangements.”
Iain Duncan Smith and John Whittingdale said Theresa May would have little choice but to call fresh elections if she was unable to get her Brexit deal past the Commons.
The interventions come as leading Remain MPs seeking to cancel Brexit arrived in Brussels to meet EU negotiator Michel Barnier.
Mr Duncan Smith spoke out today : ‘It will be the most important vote of the entire Parliament and if the Government loses it you head towards that conclusion.’
Mr Whittingdale added : ‘ I think for the Government to come to Parliament and say we have a deal … and for Parliament then to turn around and say, ‘well, actually, we don’t agree it’s a good deal and we’re going to throw it out’, that is a vote of confidence in government.
‘I can’t see how the government could say ‘oh alright then, we’ll go and have another go’. I think there would have to be a general election.’
Ex-Liberal Democrat leader Mr Clegg, Labour peer Lord Adonis and veteran pro-EU Tory Ken Clarke were in Brussels for talks with Mr Barnier and EU economic and financial affairs commissioner Pierre Moscovici.
European Commission spokesman Alexander Winterstein insisted that the only negotiations taking place were those involving the teams led by Mr Davis and Mr Barnier.
He said: ‘His (Mr Barnier’s) door is always open for people who want to speak to him and his team, across the political spectrum and from all walks of life, from all parties, whoever is interested to speak to Michel Barnier.’
In response to a suggestion the meeting would lead to concerns the EU is engaged in a ‘shadow negotiation’, Mr Winterstein said: ‘There are two negotiators – on the one side the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, David Davis, and on the European side it’s the chief negotiator of the EU, Michel Barnier. Nobody else.’
He added: ‘All these meetings were requested by the people who are coming to see Mr Barnier. His door is always open.’
The Cabinet will consider the next stage of the Brexit process in a meeting of Theresa May’s top ministers on Tuesday.
The meeting will cover the Prime Minister’s hopes for progress on a trade agreement – but will also cover preparations for a ‘no deal’ scenario if talks with Brussels break down.
Theresa May’s official spokesman said that ‘all contingencies’ will be discussed, including the possibility of Britain leaving the EU without a deal.
‘It is looking at Brexit preparations for all contingencies,’ said the spokesman.
‘That obviously does include ‘no deal’, but as the Prime Minister has said on many occasions, we are working towards getting a deal and we are confident that we will do so.’