As a German, it seems to me that No Deal Brexit without preparations would hurt so much that it makes no sense to prefer it. That is so clear that it should be the case for any conceivable expectation for what happens.

It makes sense that a participant in the negotiations of the kind of Brexit states he wants No Deal Brexit for strategic reasons as part of the negotiation.

But I would not understand that anybody honestly wants a No Deal Brexit as the result. Note the term "honest" is not used as a rhetorical filler word or so, it is actually about honesty.

Again, I assume the results of No Deal without preparations are so bad in both short and long term in any conceivable future that it is bad in an objective way. My political views should not be relevant here. I excluded anything political to reach the assumption about the severity.

Are there participants expecting No Deal to have a better outcome than any other options? Even if it is only better for the person itself (Which may or may not be malicious)?

The question is not whether somebody has publicly stated he wants No Deal, but whether somebody actually think No Deal is the best option. This person probably also has stated it publicly.

Alternatively, it would be interesting if somebody would choose No Deal as backup option. But it may not be deeply reflected what it means if it is a backup, and less relevant.

  • 2
    I think the malicious intent sentence at the end needs to go. That is the bit that is going to require mind reading, because they're not going to say that.
    – Jontia
    Oct 9, 2019 at 15:11
  • 3
    @Jontia The malicious intentions could be known before, or otherwise obvious, so they do not need to say it. Also, there are intentions that are not seen as malicious by the person, but can be seen so for good reasons. Making a lot of money from it is not malicious. But betting on stock changes may seem more malicious. Oct 9, 2019 at 15:18
  • 10
    If you're asking if any politicians are saying they want a no-deal Brexit, then that's something objectively answerable but also a very trivial question. If you're asking if any politicians are saying they want a no-deal Brexit but actually don't want it, or vice versa, then we can really only speculate about internal motivations.
    – Giter
    Oct 9, 2019 at 15:19
  • 5
    How do we know who "honestly" supports it? Politicians lie every single day. Oct 9, 2019 at 16:45
  • 4
    @Jontia: The malicious intent is well documented in the cases of a number of Brexiters (Rees-Mogg and Farage in particular). Oct 9, 2019 at 16:58

9 Answers 9


There are various reasons to prefer an exit without a deal. They can be broadly divided into ideological reasons, and pragmatic reasons.

Pragmatic Reasons

It is possible to make money from the decline of an economy. By shorting sterling and shares in UK businesses, some people could enrich themselves. There are also those who seek to use the divergence from European standards to roll back the rights and protections of workers, and to produce goods more cheaply. They are betting that the damage done by a no deal brexit would be less than the opportunities created by this divergence in standards and regulation. Some people also believe (correctly or incorrectly) that Britain will be in a better negotiating position once it has left the EU, so they support a sort of "no deal for now". In the same vein, some people simply think the economic damage is overstated, and that Britain will flourish under such conditions.

Ideological Reasons

There is a contingent in the UK that sincerely believes that, given the result of the 2016 referendum, the country has a moral obligation to leave the EU as soon as possible. If one also believes that staying in the single market or customs union wouldn't really be leaving, and that any potential deal which divides the UK in any way is unacceptable, there are really no options other than leaving without a deal. Their belief really is that despite the economic damage, to preserve faith in democracy and the Union, we must leave.

Of course, all these reasons can be mixed and matched and used to justify one another - but it is certain there are both malicious and benign reasons to support this position. It is therefore difficult to say with any certainty whether any of the politicians advocating for this course of action (such as Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and many others) have malicious intentions. One can certainly accuse them of that, but they have many good justifications with which to defend themselves, and without reading their minds, we cannot say whether they are telling the truth. What we do have are their public statements, which naturally skew toward the arguments that are politically acceptable.

  • 9
    The point that it is the strictly democratic thing to do is interesting. Oct 9, 2019 at 14:36
  • 12
    I'd call it nonsense rather than interesting, but in any case this while laying out some reasons why someone may want no-deal it doesn't actually name any names, which was the question.
    – Jontia
    Oct 9, 2019 at 14:45
  • 54
    @Jontia in British English, "interesting" and "nonsense" are often synonyms.
    – alephzero
    Oct 9, 2019 at 23:06
  • 19
    The ideologue position is refuted by the fact the UK is a representative democracy, not an absolute democracy - in a representative democracy it can be argued that it's more immoral to let popular sentiment get ahead of reason and the country's best interests - especially when that popular sentiment wasn't a sustained and qualified majority opinion.
    – Dai
    Oct 10, 2019 at 1:45
  • 8
    "Interesting" as in "may you live in interesting times." Oct 10, 2019 at 2:06

Nigel Farage wants a no-deal exit. Though he's now calling it a clean break.

He tweeted: “No British Government could ever accept Germany telling us that part of the UK has to stay in the EU.

“The choice now is clear: A clean break Brexit, or stay in a new militarised empire.

“Time to choose freedom.”

Presumably the name change is to avoid having to discuss no-deal documents such as Operation Yellowhammer


Yes, President Trump of the United States.

Trump stating he wants to make a trade deal

Trump has previously said in an interview with Piers Morgan (before the first extension):

So we are going to make a deal with the UK, that will be great. As you know, somewhat restricted. Because of Brexit you have a two year restriction. And when that restriction is up we're going to be your great trading partner. It's a tough restriction to have. You know for a couple of years, you have very strong lack of being able to do things.

Why a trade deal implies leaving the EU customs union

While Trump didn't mention no-deal specifically here, it's implied that the UK would be able to make trade deals which it is not the case when the UK takes on the EU's common external tariff. From the Institute of Government:

Accepting the EU’s common external tariff would also constrain the UK’s ability to strike new trade deals and require the UK to comply with substantial numbers of EU products regulations.

Evidence that President Trump knows (negotiating) a deal with the EU may hinder the UK's ability to negotiate its own FTAs

From Politico's Trump backs no-deal Brexit:

Trump also criticized the deal negotiated with the EU, particularly the post-Brexit transition period during which the U.K. would not be able to strike its own trade deals.

“One of the things that was, I think, very bad is to have this two-year moratorium on trade. That is terrible. That is a tremendous penalty," he said. “We have the potential to be an incredible trade partner with the U.K. We’re doing relatively little compared to what we could be doing with U.K. ... I think much bigger than European Union.”

A direct endorsement of walking away when "they don’t get what they want"

From Politico's Trump backs no-deal Brexit:

"If they don’t get what they want, I would walk away,” Trump told Britain's Sunday Times ahead of his state visit to the U.K., which begins on Monday. “Yes, I would walk away. If you don’t get the deal you want, if you don’t get a fair deal, then you walk away.”

Based on statements by former National Security Advisor Bolton

It has been pointed out that Bolton has left his function in the Trump administration. The way in which Bolton left is disputed, but it's clear that it was due to differences in foreign policy views. Nevertheless, I am keeping this statement in as there has been no specific rebuke by the administation on this policy statement and Bolton's leaving wasn't directly after the statement was made.

According to Politico's US would ‘enthusiastically’ back no-deal Brexit, Trump envoy says:

America would "enthusiastically" support a no-deal Brexit, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Monday during a visit to London.

“If that’s the decision of the British government, we will support it enthusiastically, and that’s what I’m trying to convey," Bolton told reporters on the first day of his two-day visit to the British capital, according to the Guardian. "We’re with you, we’re with you."

He said the U.S. would consider striking sector-specific deals ahead of a full-scale trade pact.

“The ultimate end result is a comprehensive trade agreement covering all trading goods and services,” Bolton said. “But to get to that you could do it sector by sector, and you can do it in a modular fashion. In other words, you can carve out some areas where it might be possible to reach a bilateral agreement very quickly, very straightforwardly."

Bolton also took aim at Brussels, saying: “The fashion in the European Union is when the people vote the wrong way from the way the elites want to go, is to make the peasants vote again and again until they get it right. There was a vote — everyone knew what the issues were. It is hard to imagine that anyone in this country did not know what was at stake. The result is the way it was. That’s democracy.”

  • John Bolton no longer has that position, due to disagreements over Foreign Policy with Trump. For that reason, I don't think you can take a statement of his to be the opinion of Trump. And on a general note, past behavior of this administration strongly indicates you can't take a statement from anyone else in it to be the opinion of Trump either.
    – T.E.D.
    Oct 11, 2019 at 3:47
  • 1
    @T.E.D. he was a high ranking official in the Trump Administration picked by Trump. He only left that position about a month later so it would be very weird if his leaving the position was over this statement. After all, by that logic we could send most Amercan officials representing the US back home as they may well be fired at some point. Well except maybe Ben Carson, I think he's one of the few still in his original position but I don't think he talks about foreign policy, alas.
    – JJJ
    Oct 11, 2019 at 6:29
  • 1
    His departure was over disagreements over Foreign policy in general. Trump himself was actually using the fact that he and Bolton disagreed with foreign leaders in negotiations. So it was publicly clear that the two weren't on the same page. And yes, that is "very weird", but little has been normal about this administration.
    – T.E.D.
    Oct 11, 2019 at 13:44
  • 1
    @T.E.D. I take your point, I'll clarify the dispute (but keep it in as it's still an American representative serving at the pleasure of the president making those statements without being fired directly after and without the president or his administration distancing themselves for the statements made at this particular instance). I will also try to see if I can support the point further by editing in quotes from the president directly, which I think are out there.
    – JJJ
    Oct 11, 2019 at 13:54
  • 1
    That's a point I've thought over as well. As people on Twitter will point out daily, even a Trump opinion statement pretty much needs a freshness date attached to it (search "There's always a tweet"). And he seems to have an appalling propensity to parrot the position of the last world leader he talked to on the phone. Still, it seems reasonable to attempt to hold him to his last stated opinion, until he decides to change it.
    – T.E.D.
    Oct 11, 2019 at 15:21

Leaving aside those who might actually believe no-deal Brexit would not be bad in terms of economics, support from the rest can probably best be summarized by Boris Johnson's two words "fuck business".

People make all sorts of trade-offs. The BBC had a fairly long video segment on a small business owner (in the fishing export industry) who voted for Brexit but against her direct economic interest. When the segment was filmed she was still not ready with all the paperwork needed to trade with the EU after Brexit, and there were doubts she would even qualify under the new rules. (She had a single trailer.) Nevertheless, she said she did not regret her vote saying it was for her children's future, or something like that. (Alas I cannot find the link again; too much Brexit material on the BBC.)

Politicians who stand to gain popularity (with some segments of the population of course, not with all) from having achieved Brexit probably have an even easier job deciding than those business owners.

  • 7
    While CoedRhyfelwr's answer is probably also correct, I believe this is the primary answer. To put it another way, the "better outcome" simply cannot be measured in financial terms. Oct 10, 2019 at 22:57
  • Even those sacred fishermen beloved by Leavers, a lot of them are indeed leavers (and feel mostly French fishermen are stealing 'their' crops; plus the bycatch/discarding rules etc etc), but a lot of them are remainers (for example the shellfish catchers who export all to Spain). Oct 11, 2019 at 20:38

I think Boris Johnson definitely wants a No Deal Brexit:

this is the right way to release economic potential of the whole country.

Also, for example, Sir Bill Cash may also think so.

In fact, there is definitely some political power, and, then, some amount of people, in the UK, who prefer No Deal Brexit. When voting on a referendum, I think, that, at least, some of those, who vote for the Brexit, definitely wanted a no-deal (or UK-formed-EU-accepted deal, which is, in fact, the same)


It makes sense that a participant in the negotiations of the kind of Brexit states he wants No Deal Brexit for strategic reasons as part of the negotiation.

As I understand it, many proponents of Brexit believe that the UK would be better off outside of the EU and that the UK would be able to negotiate an agreement which is far more politically acceptable (to the conservatives) without the free movement of people.

Furthermore, many conservatives have stated that they believe that Brexit will hurt the EU far more than it will hurt the UK and that the EU will negotiate something more politically acceptable to the conservatives at the last minute.

Finally, my suspicion is that many of these last minute negotiations are intended to make it appear that the leavers are the "reasonable ones" while making the EU seem like the "bad guys".

Note: I'm using a lower case "c" to distinguish the people from the political party (which has an upper case "C").

  • 6
    "the EU will negotiate something more politically acceptable to the conservatives at the last minute" - well, that didn't happen back when "the last minute" was April 29th...
    – F1Krazy
    Oct 9, 2019 at 16:50
  • 2
    The first paragraph is missing a word. A far more politically acceptable <something> without free movement of people.
    – Jontia
    Oct 9, 2019 at 18:42
  • Real (as in realpolitik) negotiations never start until after a decision has committed to by both sides.
    – alephzero
    Oct 9, 2019 at 23:10
  • 1
    @Jontia , I edited it to fix the missing bit.
    – Tangurena
    Oct 10, 2019 at 0:07

This question seems to be asking for a "who", and the answer to that is relatively straightforward, go and look at the Brexit Party website, and the profiles and voting records of European Research Group (ERG) members.

Established by Catherine Blaiklock, the Brexit Party campaigns for British withdrawal from the European Union (EU) without a deal in order for the UK to trade on World Trade Organization (WTO) terms, which it describes as "a clean-break Brexit".


German public international broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported that "The European Research Group is a lobbying entity pushing for a no-nonsense, hard Brexit."



There were 300 MPs who voted against the Benn Act which forces the PM to seek an extension if it is looking like the UK is going to leave with No Deal. You can assume that this means they see No Deal as either their preferred option, or an acceptable back up when a deal is not reached.

You can read the debate transcripts here but I believe the arguments have already been summarised in other answers.

  • 7
    No, you can't assume that. You can only assume that they are loyal to the whip. The way party politics works in the UK means that individual votes are a poor guide to the actual opinions of the MPs voting. Oct 10, 2019 at 10:45
  • 3
    Also, many MPs have expressed the (badly wrong) view that the threat of No Deal is necessary in order to get their desired deal. Oct 10, 2019 at 10:45
  • Whether they came to the conclusion through a belief that it is in the country's interests, or just from a self serving 'I want to keep my job' perspective, this vote is a public declaration by those individual MPs that they believe that the PM does not need to take action to avoid a No Deal Brexit.
    – Phil
    Oct 10, 2019 at 11:13
  • Equally, Boris Johnson felt the need to assuage the fears of many of those 300 MPs by insisting that 'No Deal' would not be a manifesto pledge in the next Election: theguardian.com/politics/2019/oct/09/… Oct 10, 2019 at 16:52
  • It can also be used as a negotiation tactic to push things though faster, even if no one wanted no deal.
    – Charles
    Oct 11, 2019 at 13:55

A lot of eastern-EU leaders actually want their people back from UK. A hard brexit will make the impossible task a bit easier.

  • 10
    Welcome to Politics.SE! Could you provide some sources to back up your point? I'm sure I've read articles about the impact that mass emigration to the UK has had on Eastern Europe, but I haven't heard anything about Eastern European leaders believing a hard Brexit would reverse that.
    – F1Krazy
    Oct 10, 2019 at 14:35
  • 1
    I can't see it making it much easier, considering the UK government has said EU nationals have to just re-apply for residency.
    – Lee
    Oct 11, 2019 at 8:39
  • 2
    @gerrit there is some truth to it, however, it doesn't go into enough detail to answer the question. When I say truth, I think of the letter from the Polish ambassador urging Poles in the UK to consider moving back.
    – JJJ
    Oct 11, 2019 at 14:24
  • 3
    @gerrit the Lithuanian government was voted into power on (partly) an anti-emigration policy. Most East European countries are suffering from a dramatic exodus of workers.
    – gbjbaanb
    Oct 11, 2019 at 17:42
  • 1
    Good to see a non-Britsh (or Trump) perspective. But this really does need fleshing out. The two articles in the comments are useful. Though both positions would probably apply under a deal too. UK exiting Freedom of Movement should stem the outward flows, if not necessarily reverse them.
    – Jontia
    Oct 12, 2019 at 15:28

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