Speaking on the sidelines of Italy’s annual Ambrosetti conference on European affairs, Lidington said London wanted a deal that satisfied all EU member states but its contingency plan for a ‘no-deal’ Brexit was well developed.
“We remain very much committed to getting a good deal and believing that that is not just the right outcome but the most probable outcome,” he told Reuters in an interview.
He said it was important to wrap up negotiations by November in order to give British and European parliaments enough time to review and approve the text of any agreement.
“This is not something that can simply be left to the 11th hour,” Lidington added.
The UK is due to leave the European Union on March 29, yet little is clear. If the world’s fifth largest economy leaves the EU without a detailed agreement, financial markets fear a chaotic divorce that would disrupt trade flows across Europe.
There is, so far, no full exit deal, rivals to Prime Minister Theresa May are circling and some MPs are pushing for a rerun of the 2016 referendum.
May recently outlined proposals on economic and trade policy in a white paper, which Lidington said would ensure frictionless trade, especially across the UK’s only post-Brexit land border with the EU, between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
But EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has criticised the proposals, saying they imply Britain wants a “kind of à la carte single market, a kind of cherrypicking approach”.