Treasury minister Simon Clarke has said the government will not ask the EU for a Brexit extension, despite a law being passed that may require it to do so.
The Conservative MP told talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is “absolutely resolute” that he will not ask to extend Brexit beyond the October 31 deadline.
“The government is very clear that we will not under any circumstances be asking for an extension and that is the absolute bottom line,” he said.
His comments are somewhat at odds with a new Act aimed at stopping a no-deal Brexit that became law last night.
It sets a deadline of October 19 for the Prime Minister to get Parliament to approve a withdrawal agreement or to agree to leave without a deal.
If he does not succeed he will have to delay to Brexit beyond October 31.
Mr Clarke said the government’s preference is “obviously a deal” but blamed the House of Commons for making that possibility “harder”.
He said Mr Johnson will “negotiate very hard to get a good deal for our country” and maintained that any deal would remove the Irish Backstop – the main sticking point in the failure of Theresa May’s rejected withdrawal agreement.
The MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland also claimed that "Labour and the opposition parties are running scared of a general election.”
Last night, MPs defeated the Prime Minister for the second time in his call for a snap poll before the Brexit deadline.