Former Brexit minister Steve Baker said the Conservative Party faces a “catastrophic split” if Prime Minister Theresa May sticks with her Chequers plan on Brexit.
The warning comes as former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson compared May’s Brexit strategy to placing the UK in a “suicide vest” and handing the detonator to Brussels.
Mr Baker, who quit the Government in a response to Mrs May’s Chequers plan, urged the Prime Minister to drop the strategy.
He told Press Association: “If we come out of conference with her hoping to get Chequers through on the back of Labour votes, I think the EU negotiators would probably understand that if that were done, the Tory party would suffer the catastrophic split which thus far we have managed to avoid.”
Mr Baker, a former chairman of the influential pro-Brexit European Research Group of Conservatives, suggested Mrs May negotiate a free trade agreement instead of the Chequers plan.
‘A suicide vest around the British constitution’
Home Secretary Sajid Javid said a Canada-style deal has a “lot to commend it”, but that it would address the problem of the Irish border.
He told BBC's Andrew Marr Show: "I think the only deal that we've got on the table, that's the Chequers deal."
Mr Johnson’s Daily Mail column received backlash from within the party after comparing Mrs May’s Brexit strategy as a “suicide vest”.
Mr Johnson said: "We have opened ourselves to perpetual political blackmail. We have wrapped a suicide vest around the British constitution - and handed the detonator to Michel Barnier.
"We have given him a jemmy with which Brussels can choose - at any time - to crack apart the union between Great Britain and Northern Ireland."
Sir Alan Duncan, Mr Johnson's former deputy at the Foreign Office, said: "This marks one of the most disgusting moments in modern British politics.
"I'm sorry, but this is the political end of Boris Johnson. If it isn't now, I will make sure it is later."