David Davis has poured cold water over suggestions Brexit could prompt one of the 27 other member nations to quit the EU, as he addressed the House of Lords' EU Select Committee on Tuesday 11 July.
"I don't think anyone is likely to follow us down this route," the Brexit Secretary told the cross-party group of peers. Davis, speaking almost a month after he kicked of the two-year-long divorce talks with chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier, also revealed that he views the issue of the more than three million EU nations in the UK and Britons on the continent as a "moral" concern.
He told the committee that Brussels and the UK had prioritised the issue in the talks, with the expectation that the parties could broker a "substantial agreement", rather than a treaty in the near future.
"It's an issue of civilisation as much as anything else," Davis said, as he ruled out claims that the government was using the EU nationals as "bargaining chips".
Elsewhere, Davis praised Barnier as a "very French, very principled" man, but warned that his negotiating guidelines set by the EU Council and EU Commission were "narrow".
On top of that, the Brexit Secretary denied that the government was "softening" on the UK's split from the EU, claiming that the media had "overplayed" the early talks, and said the trade and customs union talks could be concluded in two years so long as there was the "political will" to do so.
Davis' grilling came just hours after Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson addressed the House of Commons.
Johnson, the chief Vote Leave spokesman, told MPs that the government had no plans for a "no deal" scenario as the UK plans to secure a "great deal" from the EU. Davis declined to comment on Johnson's remarks. "Bluntly, i wouldn't worry," he said.
But Labour MP Chuka Umunna, a leading supporter of the Open Britain campaign group, has told Prime Minister Theresa May that the confusion raises "urgent questions that must be answered".
"You and your ministers have repeatedly said in reference to leaving the European Union that 'no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain'. But today in the House of Commons, the Foreign Secretary stated that the Government has 'no plan for no deal'. This admission would be shocking in its own right, as such a serious possible scenario requires detailed contingency planning by the Government," Umunna said.
"However, the Foreign Secretary's admission also directly contradicts previous statements made by the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, David Davis. In March, Mr Davis clearly stated that officials had put together contingency plans for a no-deal outcome. He even added that the Cabinet had been briefed on these plans.
"To add to the confusion, the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU's former Chief of Staff, James Chapman, has today labelled the Foreign Secretary's claim of there being "no plan for no deal" as 'factually incorrect'.
"These directly contradictory statements emanating from senior members of Cabinet expose a worrying level of confusion within your government regarding the possible outcomes of the ongoing Brexit negotiations. Either the government has conducted contingency plans regarding a possible 'no-deal' scenario, or it has not. Both cannot be true."