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Hammond: Pragmatic approach needed for Brexit talks

Chancellor Philip Hammond said Britain should prioritise jobs and prosperity and take a "pragmatic" approach as it begins Brexit talks next week.

The comments at a meeting of EU finance ministers in Luxembourg come amid reports of divisions between Mr Hammond and Theresa May over the UK's strategy for leaving the European Union.

Mr Hammond said: "As we enter negotiations next week we will do so in a spirit of sincere cooperation taking a pragmatic approach to trying to find a solution that works both for the UK and European Union 27."

Asked whether he favoured a softer version of Brexit, such as one which includes membership of the EU single market or the customs union, he said Britain's position had been set out by the Prime Minister.

Mrs May has said Britain will leave both the single market and the customs union.

Mr Hammond said: "My clear view, and I believe the view of the majority of people in Britain, is that we should prioritise protecting jobs, protecting economic growth, protecting prosperity as we enter those negotiations and take them forward."

The remarks come a day after the Chancellor had been due to use a high-profile speech in the City of London (LSE: CIN.L - news) to send out a message that the Government would protect businesses from shocks during the Brexit process.

The event was cancelled in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

Mr Hammond's comments are likely to be seen as reflecting a softer approach to Brexit than Mrs May, who has insisted that no deal would be better than a bad deal.