Amber Rudd says she is ready to back a fresh Brexit referendum to end the deepening crisis, as she blasted Boris Johnson as “desperate” and without a plan.

The former home secretary suggested more and more MPs feared a general election would be just as “divisive” and fail to solve the crisis – potentially making a referendum a better option.

Insisting a deal was still possible with further compromise, Ms Rudd said there may have to be “a confirmatory referendum at some stage, on a deal, to get it through”.

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The comment came as the now-independent MP, who quit the Tories in September, attacked a leaked memo – widely assumed to be penned by Dominic Cummings – threatening the EU with harsh consequences if it defied the UK.

Ms Rudd said it revealed No 10 that was “angry and desperate”, adding: “There doesn’t appear to be an active plan at all.”

On the rising chances of a Final Say referendum to break the impasse, she said: “I certainly think there are quite a lot of MPs who are considering that.”

She warned an election – favoured by both the prime minister and Jeremy Corbyn – could be “dishonest and potentially dangerous if the government continues to ramp up the anger”.

“I’m concerned we will get a hung parliament in the same way, which would not resolve it. If we had a referendum we might have a chance of trying to do that,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

The explosive Downing Street memo, sent to The Spectator magazine, predicts negotiations on Mr Johnson’s proposals will end in failure this week, given the level of EU opposition.

It claims the government will attempt to scupper an Article 50 extension – required by the Benn Act – by refusing to co-operate, including on security, with the EU members who are ready to grant one.

And it predicts the Conservatives will then fight and win an election on a no-deal ticket, aping Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party.

Asked who was behind the memo, Ms Rudd said: “I think Dominic Cummings, yes, because otherwise it would have been heavily denied and heads would have rolled. So clearly it's come from them, it's in their style.

“What they're doing is angrily, apparently, begging the EU not to support a delay which will be required because of the position that parliament has taken.

“And I urgently would ask the prime minister to take control of this and give us some clarity and some dignity and diplomacy on what is taking place.”

In the memo, the No 10 source wrote: “We will make clear privately and publicly that countries which oppose delay will go the front of the queue for future cooperation – cooperation on things both within and outside EU competences.

“Those who support delay will go to the bottom of the queue. Supporting delay will be seen by this government as hostile interference in domestic politics, and over half of the public will agree with us.”

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