Britain won't beat Brexit deal, says Grayling at Birmingham Airport
Chris Grayling said MPs had 'no alternative' but to back the Prime Minister's much-criticised Brexit plan, insisting: "I don't see how we are going to get anything better."
The Transport Secretary and ardent Brexiteer said he was not accepting second best by supporting Theresa May's agreement with the EU, claiming it had the 'vast majority' of the benefits that he campaigned for during the referendum.
He warned that opposing the deal would put Brexit in 'danger', and moved to quash any talk of a 'hugely divisive' second EU referendum.
The Transport Secretary was speaking at Birmingham Airport – which he described as 'a great airport' success story' – in a bid to sell the Prime Minister's Brexit deal to the people of the West Midlands.
He also gave reassurances that 'planes will keep moving' after Brexit, and insisted he was the right man to oversee the UK's transport despite calls for him to resign over chaos on the railways.
Asked about the chances of Mrs May's deal passing the Commons, Mr Grayling said: "Politics is moving very fast at the moment.
"What people on the Brexit side of the argument in particular need to ask themselves, is are we prepared to put in danger leaving the European Union after the votes in the House of Commons, which clearly try and put greater shackles on the Government when it comes to Brexit.
"Nobody should have ever have expected to get the perfect deal. What we do need to do, is leave."
He added: "Of course it's a challenge, but speaking as a Brexiteer, I don't really see what the alternative path is.
"In a House of Commons that is clearly sceptical about Brexit... I don't see we are going to get anything better than what is on offer at the moment."
He rejected the suggestion that he was accepting second best by backing the deal, saying: "Brexit doesn't mean we have to walk away and not speak to them [the EU] again.
"Being good friends and good neighbours... working together is always what I have argued for."
He described Mrs May's deal as a 'pragmatic, sensible Brexit' which delivered the 'vast majority' of the benefits of leaving the EU, adding: "Nobody can expect the purity of what they might aspire to."
Addressing the issue of a potential second referendum if the Government's deal is defeated, he said such a move would be 'hugely divisive'.
"The last thing this country wants is a second referendum," Mr Grayling said.
"People just want to get on with this, sort it out and move on.
"If we try to open this issue again people will have a sense of real frustration about our democracy."
The Transport Secretary also moved to reassure passengers that 'planes will keep moving' after Brexit, and outlined his hopes that Birmingham Airport's expansion would see more flights to places outside the EU, such as South East Asia.
Mr Grayling has faced calls for his resignation over his handling of Britain's railways crisis, but he insisted he was the best man to get the country moving again.
He said the railways were 'bursting at the seams', carrying twice as many passengers as 20 years ago on one and a half as many trains.
"Some of the problems we have seen in the last few months are because we have been investing," he added.
"If we hadn't been, we wouldn't have been putting on extra trains and we wouldn't have seen the issues that we have.
"It's because we are trying increase capacity and make things better for passengers."