A former Tory Cabinet Minister has warned a Conservative general election majority would trigger a “disastrous” no-deal Brexit .
Ex-Justice Secretary David Gauke suggested Tory supporters opposed to quitting the EU without an agreement should consider “lending” their votes to the Lib Dems on December 12.
Mr Gauke, who had the Tory whip withdrawn by Mr Johnson after rebelling over Brexit in September, confirmed he would stand as an independent in South West Hertfordshire – the seat he has held since 2005.
He feared if Mr Johnson was returned with an overall majority it would lead to Britain leaving the EU without a trade pact with Brussels when a transition period ends in December 2020.
“A Conservative majority after the next general election will take us in the direction of a very hard Brexit,” he told the BBC.
“In all likelihood at the end of 2020 we will leave the implementation period without a deal with the EU, on WTO (World Trade Organisation) terms – in effect, on no-deal terms.
“That, I believe, would be disastrous for the prosperity of this country – whole sectors would become unviable.”
Even if Mr Johnson wanted to extend the transition period to allow more time to negotiate a free trade deal with the EU, he would be unable to do so, Mr Gauke claimed.
“I think in reality the Prime Minister is so boxed in that the Conservative Party would not allow him to extend the implementation period even if he wanted to – and he shows no signs of wanting to do so,” he said.
Mr Gauke said he did not identify as a Lib Dem, but suggested Tory supporters consider voting for Jo Swinson’s party in some seats to thwart of a Conservative majority.
“I’m impressed by Jo Swinson. I think if I was living in a lot of constituencies I would lend my vote to the Liberal Democrats ,” he said.