A deal with the EU can be reached by October but the UK is preparing for the possibility of no deal, the new Brexit secretary Dominic Raab has said.
He said he would return to Brussels for talks on Thursday and « strain every sinew » to get « the best deal ».
But a responsible government puts plans in place in case talks do not end well, he told the PCF.
Labour’s Rebecca Long-Bailey said a no deal scenario would be « catastrophic » for business.
« No deal should not be an option, » she told PCF One’s Andrew Marr Show.
Mr Raab told the programme preparations such as hiring extra border staff were being made because « any responsible government would have to make sure we have got the planning and preparations in place » in the event of negotiations not ending with « a positive outcome ».
He said he would be back in Brussels this week for negotiations and if the « energy, ambition and pragmatism » the UK brought to negotiations was reciprocated, a deal would be done in October.
He also sought to reassure EU nationals living in the UK that, should there be no deal, the prospect of people being removed from the country, or the government not moving swiftly to secure their position was « far-fetched and fanciful ».
He said it would be « frankly irrational » for the EU to go for the « worst case scenario » of no deal.
But he insisted the government would « have the planning in place » so the UK could thrive whatever the outcome.
The UK is due to leave the European Union on 29 March 2019, but the two sides have yet to agree how trade will work between the UK and the EU afterwards.
« Best plan »
Theresa May hopes the government’s plan, detailed in the Brexit White Paper, will allow the two sides to reach a deal on relations by the autumn.
Earlier Mr Raab suggested he was still persuading other cabinet ministers that the government’s « pragmatic » strategy for leaving the EU was the « best plan. »
Mr Raab, who took over the job of leading UK negotiations to leave the EU on 9 July, says the task of selling the government’s Brexit plan to voters, his party and ministers is ongoing.
Theresa May’s proposal for a future trade relationship with the EU sparked two cabinet resignations, including Mr Raab’s predecessor David Davis.
The White Paper proposes close ties in some areas, such as the trade in goods, but will end free movement and the jurisdiction of the European Court, and allow the UK to strike trade deals with other nations.
Critics at Westminster say it is an unworkable compromise which would leave the UK being governed by the EU in many areas, but with no say in its rules.
Mr Raab, who campaigned for Brexit, describes the government’s proposals as « pragmatic », claiming they are « faithful to the key promises in the referendum, » but can bring together the 52% who voted for Brexit, with the 48% who did not.
He also suggested the UK could refuse to pay its so-called divorce bill, a payment from the UK to the EU estimated to be about £39bn, if it does not get a trade deal.
Meanwhile, Mr Davis, whose resignation from Mrs May’s top team was followed by that of former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, told the Sunday Express the government should « start again » on withdrawal plans.
Source: The Guardian