CABINET divisions over a no-deal Brexit have emerged again as Prime Minister Theresa May faces a major Commons clash on the issue.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds insisted he could not envisage leaving the EU without a deal being government policy.

But his comments came after leader of the Commons Andrea Leadsom branded attempts by MPs to kill no deal as an option through a series of Commons amendments a “thinly veiled attempt to stop Brexit”.

Hinds told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday: “I don’t envisage no deal becoming Government policy. We want to avoid a no deal. No deal would not be a good outcome.”

Hinds insisted there were advantages to the controversial backstop proposals intended to avoid a hard border in Ireland by getting the UK to obey EU customs rules if no wider trade deal is agreed after a transition period.

The Education Secretary said: “There are multiple reasons to believe the backstop would never come into place.

“And, even if it did, actually there are some advantages to the backstop as well as drawbacks.”

Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney said the EU was committed to a backstop. He told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show: “The European Parliament will not ratify a withdrawal agreement that doesn’t have a backstop in it. It’s as simple as that.

“The backstop is already a compromise. It is a series of compromises. It was designed around British red lines.

“Ireland has the same position as the European Union now, I think, when we say that the backstop as part of the withdrawal agreement is part of a balanced package that isn’t going to change.”

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Health Secretary Matt Hancock denied Coveney’s comments meant May’s Brexit deal was “dead in the water”.

“Not at all,” said Hancock. “That’s a negotiating position the Irish are taking, but I think it’s also extremely clear from that interview and the tone ... Ireland doesn’t want to have a no-deal Brexit.

“The whole purpose of the backstop is to avoid a hard border, which risks being a consequence of a no-deal Brexit.

“The idea the EU and the Irish Government would drive this process to a no-deal exit in order to try to achieve something which is intended to avoid no-deal Brexit, that is not going to happen.”

However, Brexiteer Tory MP Andrea Jenkyns said she wanted the PM to abandon the backstop, telling Sky News: “I’d like to see her bin the backstop. I think we need to bin it completely.”

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Ahead of tomorrow’s Commons showdown, Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood, pictured above, broke ranks and insisted a no-deal scenario must be ruled out.

Ellwood wrote in the Sunday Times: “It is now time to rule out the very possibility of no deal.

“It is wrong for government and business to invest any more time and money in a no-deal outcome which will make us poorer, weaker and smaller in the eyes of the world.”

Meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon has thrown her support behind Labour MP Yvette Cooper’s Article 50 amendment, which the SNP in Westminster will back tomorrow.

If the amendment is selected by the Speaker, MPs will vote on whether the Prime Minister must seek a delay to the planned Brexit date of March 29 if no deal has been approved by February 26.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford is also expected to table an amendment today calling on May to note the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and Commons all voted “overwhelmingly” to reject her deal.

But speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show yesterday, Sturgeon said May had not revealed what her next plan for Brexit was – meaning extending Article 50 was “now pressing and urgent”.

The First Minister commented: “I don’t think she had a clue herself where she’s going, if I can be as blunt as that.

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“There’s an air of unreality. There’s almost an air of the Prime Minister and her Government being in complete denial about this.

“Yesterday there were reports in the media about how she might be close to getting a majority behind her deal by making a commitment to removing the backstop – ignoring the reality that the EU have shown no signs of being prepared to agree to that.

“That’s why I think now Article 50 should be extended, there should be a request made for that and the SNP were the first party to call for that.”