Brexit: Jeremy Hunt says 'absolute priority' to avoid European polls


Nigel Farage's new Brexit Party is attracting support from disgruntled Conservative voters unhappy at the party's failure to deliver Britain's departure from the European Union, according to new polling.

"What the prime minister has to do now is aim everything towards departure before the euros (European elections) which would then allow her to step away having done what she said she would do - get the United Kingdom out of the European Union one way or the other", he told Sky News.

Talks between the government and Labour are set to continue over the Easter parliamentary recess in the hope of finding an agreement that will be acceptable to MPs.

He said next week's meeting will focus on issues including environmental standards, workers rights and the new security relationship with the EU. But with Parliament still deadlocked on whether to accept that the government's divorce handle the bloc, European Union leaders have stalled Brexit until October 31.

Speaking on a visit to Japan, Mr Hunt said the talks with Labour had been "more constructive than people thought" but "we don't know if they are going to work".

He said that if the talks break down, the Government will return to the House of Commons for further votes.

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He said that although a no-deal Brexit appeared less likely, he hoped a recently signed EU-Japan trade deal would roll over to the United Kingdom if it left without a deal.

"I don't want to compromise what is at the moment a space where we are testing with the opposition, and they are testing with us, particular ways in which we could move forward".

He added that discussions couldn't be allowed to "drag on" for an extended period but continued to defend the prime minister's position.

Addressing speculation over a leadership challenge from Johnson, his predecessor as foreign secretary, Hunt said: "There is one very big difference between me and Boris, which is that I am foreign secretary and I have a very big job to do to try and get this deal over the line".

"I think that what matters is we have a cabinet that believes in Brexit".

The foreign secretary - a fluent Japanese speaker - also addressed the pupils in their native tongue as he made the official visit to the country.