Frustrated South Swindon MP Robert Buckland has explained to town business leaders his transformation from Brexit remain campaigner and cliff-edge cautioner to no-deal supporter.
The newly-appointed Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice addressed networkers at a Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce meeting in Swindon on Friday (September 6).
He said Brexit had become a soap opera that people had either switched off from or were glued to with (metaphorical) popcorn.
Explaining how he had made the transition from ardent remainer before the 2016 referendum, through accepting the result but warning of the consequences of a no-deal Brexit, to supporting prime minister Boris Johnson's Do-orDie plan to leave the European Union by October 31, Mr Buckland said: "The uncertainty is now causing problems and blocking investment. We owe it to the people to have that event with or without a deal. We need clarity and we need to crack on with it.
"In the winter I was expressing concern at crashing out, but a lot of work has been done to prepare the country for Brexit on October 31. Looking at the resilience of government and the preparedness of business, I'm increasingly satisfied that even if we don't get a deal it will not be a crash-out."
He said he knew negotiations with the EU were ongoing "because I know the people involved."
Mr Buckland said leaving with a deal was still his preferred option, and criticised Hilary Benn’s European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill, which would delay Brexit until January in the absence of a deal or approval for no-deal by October 19.
The bill is due to be given royal assent later today (Monday).
"The new bill ties the hands of the government" he said. "I suspected we might have seen an offer (at the European council summit) on October 12. Now that's looking pretty difficult."
He told business leaders there was now "no choice" but to have a general election, which he was sure would happen before 2022, and promised to "keep fighting for Swindon" whatever the outcome of Brexit.