LONDON - Amber Rudd has quit Boris Johnson’s cabinet, with an outspoken attack on the government’s approach to Brexit.

The ex-work and pensions secretary said the government was having no “formal negotiations” with the EU about a new deal, only “conversations”.

Instead, 80-90% of Brexit work was spent preparing for an “inferior” no-deal option, she said.

But Chancellor Sajid Javid said ministers were “straining every sinew” to get a deal with the EU.

He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show a “tremendous amount of effort” had gone into securing a revised deal.

He added that preparations for a no-deal scenario would “concentrate minds” in Europe regarding working towards a new agreement.

Downing Street says environment minister Therese Coffey will replace Ms Rudd as work and pensions secretary.

I no longer believe leaving with a deal is the government’s main objective

Ms Rudd told the Sunday Times she would be considering whether to stand as an independent Conservative should there be an general election.

In her resignation letter to the prime minister, Ms Rudd said: “I joined your cabinet in good faith: accepting that ‘No Deal’ had to be on the table, because it was the means by which we would have the best chance of achieving a new deal to leave on 31 October.

“However I no longer believe leaving with a deal is the government’s main objective.” She called the PM’s decision to expel 21 MPs from the parliamentary Conservative party an “act of political vandalism”, after her former colleagues rebelled last week over a bill designed to avoid a no-deal Brexit.

“If we become a party which has no place for the type of moderates that I am, the centre-right Conservatives, then we will not win [a general election],” she said.

The MP for Hastings and Rye, who supported Remain in the 2016 referendum, has resigned the Tory whip - meaning she will remain an MP but no longer sit as part of the Conservative party in Parliament.

She told the BBC there was “very little evidence” the government would get a new Brexit deal, and she had only received a “one-page summary” of efforts to get an agreement when she asked for details earlier this week.

She said “proper discussions about policy” had not been taking place, suggesting senior ministers had limited involvement in the PM’s decisions.

She added that cabinet ministers had also not been shown legal advice to the prime minister about his decision to prorogue - or suspend - Parliament from next week until 14 October.

Asked who was running the country, if not the cabinet, she replied: “If I knew that, I would perhaps have had further conversations with the prime minister, or them.”

However, Mr Javid said there had been “progress” in talks with the EU about making changes to former PM Theresa May’s Brexit deal, which was rejected three times by the House of Commons.

He said the government has “many new ideas” for proposals to break the deadlock over the contentious backstop plan in the deal aiming to preserve seamless border on the island of Ireland.

However he said it would be “madness” to talk through the details of the government’s proposals openly.

“Anyone who understands how negotiation works, you would not discuss those in public,” he added.

Former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Ms Rudd’s departure was “desperately sad news”, describing her as “one of the most principled and capable ministers I’ve worked with”.