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Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay hints he could quit if PM backs a long extension to Article 50

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay has fuelled speculation he could quit after just months in the key post if Theresa May backs a long extension to Article 50, saying 'we shouldn't be afraid to leave with no deal'.

The North East Cambridgeshire MP said that while he backed a short 'technical extension' to allow Theresa May's Brexit deal to be implemented the UK should otherwise quit the bloc without one.

His comments to the BBC on Friday came the day after he spent 10 minutes speaking in the Commons telling MPs they should a Government plan seeking an extension to Article 50 - before then voting against it. 

The interview and vote appear to put him on a potential collision course with Theresa May if she fails to get a deal through at the third time of asking before meeting EU leaders on March 21.

The motion passed last night said that if a deal is agreed next week Mrs may would seek to leave by the end of June, to allow time for the delay to be implemented and ratified by EU member states.

But it also says that without one the UK faces staying in the EU for months and potentially years. 

The EU is reportedly considering demanding a second referendum as the price of an extension if Mrs May does not arrive in Brussels with a deal.

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay leaving the House of Commons last night after he used a free vote to oppose a Government motion setting out the possible length of a delay to Brexit

Mr Barclay, pictured sitting next to Theresa May last night, had urged MPs to back the deal minutes before he voted against it. The motion was passed by 413 to 202

Asked about how he voted Mr Barclay today suggested that he was voting only against the latter part of the motion, saying: 'There are two parts of the motion, a short technical extension which we need with the deal, and we are pushing that, that's separate from whether you have a long extension rather than no deal.

'My view is … I support Brexit. This constituency voted in very large numbers for Brexit.   

'We need a deal, we need to get that over the line. But if we don't have a deal then we should leave with no deal.

'That has always been my position and I voted as my constituency would expect me to do last night.'

He added: 'If we get the deal through, as I hope we still will do, we will need a short technical extension, but if we don't we shouldn't be afraid to leave with no deal.'

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