THERE is a 30 per cent chance Britain will end up staying in the European Union, self-styled “Brexit saboteur” Sir Vince Cable told businesses gathered in Kendal.

The Liberal Democrat leader and outspoken critic of the Government’s handling of Brexit, also told business leaders who gathered at The Mintworks, that he thought no-deal was a “bluff”, even though it may materialise as the default position if a deal agreeable to both Parliament and the EU was not struck in time.

Describing the position Britain faced itself in as an “embarrassment”, Sir Vince said it was 50-50 as to whether Theresa May’s current deal which is currently being kicked around the corridors of Westminster would get through Parliament.

And while he said Brexit would cause economic harm, and probably a recession, in the UK it would not be on the scale of the economic crisis of 2007-2008.

Sir Vince and the Liberal Democrats have argued for a second referendum, or so-called “people’s vote”, hoping the public come out in favour of making a U-turn.

Addressing around 60 invited business leaders from across south Cumbria at the Cumbria Chamber of Commerce-hosted event, Sir Vince, said: “I think there’s a 30 per cent chance we finish up staying and a 20 per cent risk of a no-deal. There is a risk, but not massive.

“It is 50-50 whether Theresa May’s deal will go ahead. But even if it does, we will spend the next two, maybe four, years arguing with the EU over the detail.”

On the economy, he said that the uncertainty caused by Brexit was holding business back.

“Businesses are not investing and there is very little ambitious investment,” he said.

“Stockpiling is keeping the economy going at the moment.”

Sir Vince warned that there would be dire consequences for exporting businesses and the agricultural sector should Britain leave without a deal.

“Farmers could end up having to slaughter a large amount of stock if they cannot sell it. It would be like the foot and mouth epidemic in terms of impact, but self-inflicted,” he said.

“On exports we will have to negotiate trading deals with countries that currently have deals with the EU, such as Japan and South Korea. Deals that are not ready and won’t be for some time.

“It will be a killer and it is just a case of incompetence.”