The idea that, in order to strengthen its position in the Brexit negotiations, Britain must show that it is prepared to walk away without a deal, is a load of nonsense.
It is a negotiating strategy that can work if the other side want more from you than you want from them. But in these negotiations, Britain is the supplicant.
We are the ones leaving EU but nonetheless wanting access to its market, the ability to ignore a new customs border of our own creation in Northern Ireland, and the right to pull out mid-stream of various joint projects and spending commitments.
In addition, we still want to benefit from the European framework for air travel, from European research programmes, from security cooperation and much else – despite walking out.
Unlike most negotiations, ‘no deal’ doesn’t retain the status quo. ‘No deal’ results in a sudden and complete exclusion from a legal framework which is vital for our nation’s economy and for people’s lives in hundreds of practical ways.
The negotiating leverage we would acquire by threatening to leave without a deal is equivalent to the leverage of the bank robber standing at the counter and pointing a gun to his own head, saying “Give me the money or I’ll shoot myself!”