Amber Rudd has quit Boris Johnson’s cabinet, with an outspoken attack on the government’s approach to Brexit.
The ex-work and pensions secretary said the government was having no “formal negotiations” with the EU about a new deal, only “conversations”.
Instead, 80-90% of Brexit work was spent preparing for an “inferior” no-deal option, she said.
But Chancellor Sajid Javid said ministers were “straining every sinew” to get a deal with the EU.
He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show a “tremendous amount of effort” had gone into securing a revised deal.
Mr Javid added that preparations for a no-deal scenario would “concentrate minds” in Europe regarding working towards a new agreement.
Downing Street says environment minister Therese Coffey will replace Ms Rudd as work and pensions secretary.
BBC political correspondent Jonathan Blake said the prime minister spent Sunday meeting his closest advisers at the government’s countryside residence Chevening House, in Kent, “perhaps planning the next move”.
Ms Rudd told the Sunday Times she would be considering whether to stand as an independent Conservative should there be an general election.
In her resignation letter to the prime minister, Ms Rudd said: “I joined your cabinet in good faith: accepting that no-deal had to be on the table, because it was the means by which we would have the best chance of achieving a new deal to leave on 31 October.
“However, I no longer believe leaving with a deal is the government’s main objective.”
She called the PM’s decision to expel 21 MPs from the parliamentary Conservative party an “act of political vandalism”, after her former colleagues rebelled last week over a bill designed to avoid a no-deal Brexit.
“If we become a party which has no place for the type of moderates that I am, the centre-right Conservatives, then we will not win [a general election],” she said. Read more