Sir Vince Cable: There is a one in five chance that Brexit won't happen at all

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Vince Cable said the public may reject “horrible mess” caused by a no deal (Rex)
Vince Cable said the public may reject “horrible mess” caused by a no deal (Rex)

There is a one in five chance that Brexit won’t happen, Sir Vince Cable has said, warning that Tory infighting is scuppering the chance of Britain getting a good deal.

Speaking on Sky News’ Sunday with Niall Paterson, the Liberal Democrats leader said there is a “distinct possibility” that an exit from the European Union will not happen.

Sir Vince, who backed Remain, said: “I wouldn’t say it is probably that it will be stopped but there is a distinct possibility.

“I have been asked by business people in the past to put a probability estimate — I would say [there is] probably about a 20 per cent possibility that this may not happen.”

The former business secretary said that the mood in the country might change if there is no positive outcome to negotiations.

“The government is of course pressing ahead with negotiations, but the sheer complexity, the practical difficulty the government is internally divided.

“We may get to the middle of next year and find this is just a horrible mess and there will be a growing political mood within the country and within Parliament to find a way out.

“And that is why we believe that at the end of the day the public should have a choice as to whether they want to go ahead with Brexit when we have discovered what its about, or whether they want an exit from Brexit.”

He added that it looks “increasingly unlikely” that the divorce from the EU will be “amicable”. He said that, in that case, the public would “settle” for an exit.

“If it is a terrible mess and very divisive and very costly then I think people will want to reopen the question.’

Jacob Rees-Mogg, Tory MP for North East Somerset and vocal Brexit supporter, said: “It is a reminder that the establishment has still not come to terms with the referendum result.

“Brexiteers must stay on their guard.”

Earlier in the month, the former diplomat who drafted article 50 says the UK could reverse Brexit up to the moment we leave.

Lord Kerr, a former UK ambassador to the European Union, said: “At any stage we can change our minds if we want to, and if we did we know that our partners would actually be very pleased indeed.

“The Brexiters create the impression that is because of the way article 50 is written that having sent in a letter on 29 March 2017 we must leave automatically on 29 March 2019 at the latest.

“That is not true. It is misleading to suggest that a decision that we are taking autonomously in this country about the timing of our departure, we are required to take by a provision of EU treaty law.”

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