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  1. ITV Report

Theresa May to warn ministers over Cabinet leaks

The Prime Minister will tell ministers they must keep Cabinet discussions private. Credit: PA

The Prime Minister will remind ministers of the need to keep Cabinet discussions private following a series of leaks targeting the Chancellor Philip Hammond, Downing Street has said.

Theresa May will tell ministers that they should focus on their job of delivering for the public.

It comes after a series of reports accused Mr Hammond of saying that public sector staff were "overpaid" in a cabinet meeting.

The Chancellor declined to deny that he made the comments, which were reported in the Sunday Times.

He did however accuse colleagues of making damaging leaks in an attempt to undermine him after a dispute over the best approach for Brexit.

Chancellor Philip Hammond with Brexit Secretary David Davis. Credit: PA

According to The Sunday Times report, Mr Hammond said that, with their pensions were taken into account, public sector workers were "overpaid", and that train drivers were "ludicrously overpaid".

It said five sources attested to the Chancellor using the word.

Mrs May's spokesman declined to discuss the content of the leaks, but told reporters: "Of course, Cabinet must be able to hold discussions of Government policy in private and the Prime Minister will be reminding her colleagues of that at the Cabinet meeting tomorrow."

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling attempted to play down suggestions of Cabinet splits over Brexit and criticised those who have been talking about its meetings.

"I don't see these great divisions that are suggested to me in the Sunday newspapers and I have to say I think all of this is somewhat overplayed," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Mr Grayling said the suggestion that there were "profound and fundamental differences" between Cabinet ministers on Brexit were "a bit exaggerated".

However he added: "We're not a group of clones, we have discussions around the Cabinet table and outside Cabinet, we debate issues, we decide what's right and then we get on with it.

"I'm very clear that the Cabinet and the party are united behind Theresa May, united in determination to get the right deal for the country in the Brexit negotiations and to make sure we continue the economic progress we've made," Mr Grayling said.

The infighting came as the second round of EU withdrawal talks got under way in Brussels.

Brexit Secretary David Davis and European Commission chief negotiator Michel Barnier say that officials will focus on the issues of citizens' rights, borders and the UK's financial settlement in discussions due to last four days.

Soon after the formal opening of discussions, Mr Davis set off back to London, leaving officials to continue with negotiations until he returns to Brussels on Thursday for a press conference with Mr Barnier.