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Jeremy Hunt: Only Vladimir Putin would welcome no-deal Brexit

The Foreign Secretary’s comments came as Theresa May said she has had ‘constructive’ talks with fellow EU leaders.

Only Russian President Vladimir Putin would welcome a no-deal Brexit, Jeremy Hunt has said.

The Foreign Secretary said Mr Putin would rejoice if the UK and its allies failed to reach an agreement.

His comments strike a different tone from predecessor Boris Johnson – who said a Brexit on World Trade Organisation terms “doesn’t hold terrors” – and came despite Theresa May’s insistence that “no deal is better than a bad deal”.

The Prime Minister, who took her Cabinet to north-east England for an away day, insisted that she was having “constructive” talks with EU counterparts about the blueprint agreed by her Government at Chequers.

Mr Hunt, who was on a visit to Germany, warned about the dangers of the UK and EU accidentally stumbling into a “no deal” scenario.

If that happened “the only person rejoicing would be Putin”, he said.

The last gathering of Cabinet ministers away from Downing Street was at the Prime Minister’s Chequers retreat to thrash out a Brexit blueprint – eventually leading to the resignations of David Davis and Mr Johnson.

Her top team of ministers met for a special session in Gateshead on Monday, before Mrs May went to Newcastle to answer questions from workers at an engineering firm.

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Theresa May told workers at Reece Group in Newcastle that she has had ‘constructive’ talks about her Brexit plan (Russell Cheyne/PA)

The Prime Minister told staff at Reece Group about her efforts to sell the Chequers plan to the EU.

“What I see is people focusing their minds now on the impact the future relationship will have on their economies as well as ours,” she said.

“We’ve had some constructive responses so far. I won’t say that you won’t hear some negative things being said, but so far, constructive responses.”

A questioner then asked if it was inevitable there would be a no-deal Brexit if Parliament rejects any agreement negotiated with the EU.

But Mrs May sidestepped the question, saying: “My aim is to bring forward a deal that Parliament will support.”

She said the UK would “do really well post-Brexit” and would be “much more outward-looking”.

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Mrs May on a tour of the Reece Group’s Armstrong Works (Russell Cheyne/PA)

The Prime Minister said: “Many people said that immediately after the referendum, we would see a collapse in our economy. In fact our economy has continued to grow.

“Our future is what we make it.”

And in a thinly veiled message to would-be rebel MPs, she said: “People chose and it’s now for Parliament to deliver on people’s choice.

“And I think that’s important in terms of people’s trust in what we as politicians do.”

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