Brexit has been made harder to deliver by commonplace leaking from Cabinet meetings, Jeremy Hunt has said.

The Foreign Secretary said when senior ministers are faced with difficult judgment calls on the UK's withdrawal from the EU it is a "great benefit" to Britain if they can be discussed "freely" without fear of them being publicised.

Mr Hunt, speaking in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, during a week-long trip to Africa, said leaking from the Cabinet had "moved from the exception to the norm" in the last year - something he described as "incredibly disappointing".

Asked if the changing nature of trust around the Cabinet table had hurt Brexit and its delivery, he told reporters: "I think it probably has - yes. I think it has made it harder to deliver what we have been trying to achieve and yes of course it damages trust.

"Because when we are faced with very difficult judgment calls on Brexit issues, it is obviously of great benefit to the country if everyone can discuss them freely without having to think about how decisions will be leaked afterwards."

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Politics over the last year, he said, had created a "perfect storm" where the most "controversial issue in our lifetimes", combined with the hung parliament, gives ministers a "lot more power" sitting around the table than they would normally have.

"The question is whether you exercise that power responsibly or not," he said.

Mr Hunt said Cabinet government has to work in "total honesty in private" and with "total loyalty in public".

Following the sacking of Gavin Williamson as Defence Secretary on Wednesday over the leak of secret information from the National Security Council on Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, Mr Hunt said he hoped the episode would be a "moment of change" in how government works.

"You have to have that element of trust and in the last year that has changed and I think it is highly regrettable because it means that everyone who speaks around the Cabinet table has to be careful about how any comments they make might be spun subsequently and I hope this incident will cause everyone to reflect on the importance of stopping those kind of leaks full stop."

Mr Hunt said he had "every confidence" that Sir Mark Sedwill, the Cabinet secretary, had carried out a "thorough investigation" - describing him as a "civil servant of the highest integrity".

Asked if he believed Sir Mark had anything against Mr Williamson, he said: "That is not the Mark Sedwill I know."

The Foreign Secretary said he hoped his former colleague would not be defined by the incident, saying he had made an "incredible commitment" to the armed forces and spoken of how Britain's voice should be "loud and strong".

He said he hoped "that is what he is remembered for".

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Mr Hunt described the National Security Council as an "inner sanctum" when it comes to the defence and security of the country, and where senior intelligence chiefs sit as equals among politicians and civil servants.

"It is an incredible, powerful and important forum on that basis but obviously very highly classified information is discussed on a regular basis," he explained, adding that he was "not surprised" the Cabinet secretary treated the NSC leak differently to other disclosures.

He said Theresa May had to have "absolute confidence" that everything said at the NSC will remain confidential, and without it "no prime minister can have someone sitting around the table".