1. ITV Report

Jeremy Hunt tells ITV News that European Union is 'hardly negotiating' on Brexit sticking points

Jeremy Hunt has accused the European Union of refusing to negotiate with Britain over the key sticking points in Brexit talks.

In an interview with Tom Bradby on ITV News at Ten at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, the foreign secretary claimed the bloc had failed to offer viable alternatives to Theresa May's "serious proposals" on thorny issues like the Irish border.

Mr Hunt admitted that talks had reached an impasse, and said the time had come for the EU to sit down and have "proper negotiations".

His comments came after he was questioned about Boris Johnson's speech at the Conservative Party Conference, where the former Mayor of London called for the Prime Minister to "chuck" her Chequers proposals.

Mr Hunt said: "First of all, this isn't a time to have a huge argument about which shade of Brexit we end up with.

"That's an important debate to have.

"But right now the European Union aren't actually really negotiating with us about any shade of Brexit, and what we need is to start a proper negotiation.

"Theresa May has put some very serious proposals on the table, thought through, they deal with the issues of the Northern Irish border, they give us frictionless trade and what we need is to have a proper sit down."

Mr Hunt has been critical of the EU's supposed lack of negotiation. Credit: PA

Mr Hunt told ITV News that Mrs May had spent time devising serious proposals to the biggest issues.

He said the EU was concerned with details about the divorce deal, but not Britain's future trading relationship with the bloc.

Mr Hunt said that Britain sought a "deep and special" relation with its European partners, but warned that "it takes two to tango".

"They are negotiating with all sorts of details about the withdrawal agreement," he told ITV News.

"But what we've always said is what we need is to also agree what our future relationship is going to look like, and the prime minister was very clear after Salzburg.

"We've reached an impasse and we need to sit down. We want to have a deep and special partnership with the EU, but it does take two to tango."

The foreign secretary's comments are likely to alienate him further from the EU after he appeared to compare the bloc to the Soviet Union.

His comments were about the EU's efforts to stop members leaving the bloc, which led to some calling for Mr Hunt to apologise.

Speaking to ITV News, Mr Hunt denied likening the EU to the former socialist federation, but said that its attempts to "punish" members from leaving "were not consistent" with European values.