Cabinet split on no-deal Brexit as army considered for border role

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Cabinet ministers have split over the possibility of a no-deal Brexit as it emerged the Home Office was considering calling in soldiers to guard the border in the event that talks with the EU fail.

Brexit Secretary David Davis told the House of Commons that “the maintenance of the option of no deal is both for negotiating reasons and sensible security,” hours before the Home Secretary Amber Rudd said leaving the EU without an agreement was “unthinkable”.

Mr Davis said the government was “straining every sinew” to get a good Brexit deal, but insisted a no-deal exit had to be an option “because in any negotiation, you’ve got to have the right to walk away, otherwise you get a terrible deal”.

Ms Rudd later told the Home Affairs Select Committee: “I think it is unthinkable that there would be no deal,” but added that 300 border guards were being recruited to prepare for that eventuality because it would take a year to train them.

And the Home Office permanent secretary, Philip Rutnam refused to rule out calling in the army to police the border in a no-deal scenario, saying it would be an “absolute last resort”.