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  1. ITV Report

No Brexit security co-operation deal 'unthinkable', Amber Rudd says

Home Secretary Amber Rudd speaks at the Home Affairs Select Committee.

It is "unthinkable" that the UK will walk away from talks with Brussels without a deal at least covering security co-operation, Home Secretary Amber Rudd has said - appearing to contradict Brexit Secretary David Davis.

Mr Davis told MPs although the Government was "straining every sinew" to secure a comprehensive deal covering the future relationship with the European Union after Brexit in March 2019 it was vital that in a negotiation you "have to have the right to walk away".

But Ms Rudd insisted there would be agreement on the vital issue of security co-operation, stressing that it was in the interests of both the UK and the remaining 27 EU members to reach a deal.

Prime Minister Theresa May put forward plans for a treaty on security co-operation in her Florence speech on Brexit.

Asked about speculation the UK could walk away without a Brexit deal "of any form" Ms Rudd told the Home Affairs Select Committee: "I think it is unthinkable that there would be no deal.

"It is so much in their interest as well as in ours; in their communities', in their families', in their tourists' interests to have something in place. We will make sure there is something between them and us to maintain our security."

Ms Rudd was a high-profile campaigner for the Remain cause during the Brexit referendum and her comments are likely to cause concern among arch-Eurosceptics on the Tory benches who believe the UK should retain the option of cutting ties with Brussels without any form of deal.

Brexit Secretary David Davis leaves Number 10 Downing Street. Credit: PA

Mr Davis, who is leading the UK's negotiations with the EU, accused Brussels of attempting to squeeze more taxpayers' cash out of the Government by using the pressure of time as the clock ticks down to the Brexit date.

"They're using time pressure to see if they can get more money out of us, and bluntly, that's what's going on," he told the Commons.

Asked about the prospect of leaving without an agreement, he said the UK had to be prepared "because it's a negotiation with many people and could go wrong" but also "you always have to have the right to walk away - if you don't, you get a terrible deal".

Downing Street attempted to play down any difference between Ms Rudd and her Cabinet colleague.

A Number 10 spokeswoman said: "I think if you look at her words in full, she's referring to the fact that a deal is in the best interests of both sides and that's something the Prime Minister absolutely agrees with."

Mrs May made a flying visit to Brussels on Monday night for talks with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker where they agreed to "accelerate" efforts to find a Brexit deal but there was little sign of tangible progress.

Following a working dinner, the PM and Mr Juncker said in a joint statement their meeting had been "constructive and friendly".

However there was no indication the Commission's side was ready to revise its view that the talks still had not made sufficient progress for them to move forward to the second phase - including a free trade deal.

Mrs May will get the chance to address EU leaders on Brexit at the European Council summit this week, Downing Street and the European Commission confirmed.

The PM will not attend a Friday working session of the other 27 leaders on the negotiations but "there will be a moment at 28", Commission chief spokesman Margaritis Schinas said.