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Jeremy Hunt: real risk of accidental no-deal Brexit

File photo dated 20/7/2018 of Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt who is holding talks with his German counterpart, Heiko Maas, in Berlin on Monday to discuss a range of issues including Brexit, Nato, the Western Balkans and Iran. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday July 23, 2018. See PA story POLITICS Hunt. Photo credit should read: David Cheskin/PA Wire

By David Hughes, Press Association Chief Political Correspondent

A no-deal Brexit would damage British relations with Europe for a generation, Jeremy Hunt warned as he pleaded for Brussels to show more flexibility in negotiations.

The Foreign Secretary used a visit to Berlin to say that while a failure to achieve a Brexit deal would be "challenging" for the UK, it would "thrive" in the long term.

But relations between the UK and its allies would be severely damaged by a failure to reach an agreement, he warned.

"Without a real change in approach from the EU negotiators, we do now face a real risk of 'no deal' by accident," Mr Hunt said.

"That would be incredibly challenging economically. Britain would find that challenging but in the end we would find a way not just to survive but to thrive economically.

"But my real concern is that it would change British public attitudes to Europe for a generation.

"It would lead to a fissure in relations which would be highly damaging for that great partnership that we have had for so many years, which has been so important in sustaining the international order."

Mr Hunt's trip to Berlin for talks with counterpart Heiko Maas marks the start of a frenetic round of diplomatic activity for Theresa May's Government as the Prime Minister seeks to build support for her Brexit strategy.

The Prime Minister is expected to hold talks with Austrian counterpart Sebastian Kurz and other EU leaders at the Salzburg Festival on Friday.

Also this week, Mrs May's de facto deputy David Lidington will travel to Paris while Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab will be in Brussels for talks on Thursday.

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