Theresa May could storm out of Brexit negotiations to show voters at home she is willing to be tough with the EU over Britain's divorce bill.
The Prime Minister is preparing a dramatic walk-out in September over the bill, thought to be in the region of £87 billion, it has been claimed, as business leaders were told Ms May was trying to “be as hard-nosed, as hard-headed and as cold-eyed about this as it is possible to be”.
The Liberal Democrats said it amounted to a “threat to throw her toys out of the pram”.
The claims, reported by The Sunday Telegraph, came from a senior former Downing Street figure, who added no final decision had been made on the plan.
But another Number 10 source told the paper: “This suggestion has no part in our plans.”
In May, Brexit Secretary David Davis said the UK should walk away unless the divorce bill demand was dropped, adding that even €1 billion (£867,000) was “a lot of money”.
He said: “We don’t need to just look like we can walk away, we need to be able to walk away.”
Downing Street declined to comment when contacted by The Independent.
Labour has previously ruled out working with Ms May's Conservatives on Brexit unless the PM comes clean with the British public about the realities of what a “bad deal”, or no deal at all, would mean for the country.
“There is not going to be a consensus, unless there is honesty,” shadow International Trade Secretary Barry Gardiner told The Independent.
Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said on Sunday: “This threat to throw her toys out of the pram is a desperate attempt by the Prime Minister to show strength as her approval ratings and influence plummet. It is no way to conduct negotiations that are vital for the future of every family in this country.
“The best thing for the City and the whole of Britain would be for the Government to commit to our membership of the single market and customs union so that we can protect our economy, jobs and keep prices down.
“Most importantly the British people must be given their say on the final deal, and be able to reject it if that is what they decide.”
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies