JEREMY Hunt has warned that a customs union would not provide a "long-term solution" to Britain's trade relationships after Brexit as he suggested a breakthrough in cross-party talks could come within days.

With what could turn out to be make or break cross-party discussions due on Tuesday, the Foreign Secretary admitted it was still possible the UK could avoid participating in the European elections in three weeks' time as the talks with Labour could yield a deal next week.

But he suggested the outcome would not be "pretty" for both parties if they had to take part in the Euro poll. His Cabinet colleague David Mundell, however, has already said Britain’s participation in the May 23 elections is now “inevitable”.

Speaking during a tour of Africa – dubbed by some a leadership tour in anticipation of Theresa May stepping down soon – Mr Hunt stressed there would need to be a "very high degree of statesmanship on both sides" in the cross-party discussions.

"We have an adversarial system in Westminster and it's in our DNA not to co-operate with each other.

"But the glimmer of hope we have in this situation is that both Conservative core voters and Labour core voters want Brexit sorted and both would be extremely angry with the party they voted for if we had another general election without Brexit being delivered."

He added: "This is a very exceptional time and there are substantively difficult issues but I don't think it's impossible."

Asked if he would support a customs union compromise, the Secretary of State replied in an interview with the Press Association: "I've never believed a customs union is a long-term solution because how could you expect the EU, for example, to stand up for the rights of Scotch whisky distillers if they were negotiating a trade deal with the United States or Japan, even though the UK had absolutely no say in that trade deal?

"There's no example anywhere in the world where a large economy like the UK - the fifth largest in the world - subcontracts the negotiation of its trade deals.

"But what Labour really want when they talk about a customs union is the benefits of a customs union; friction-less trade to facilitate issues around the border in Northern Ireland and manufacture and supply chains, and we want that too.

"So, if we can find a solution that delivers the benefits of the customs union without signing up to the current arrangements, then there will be potential."

Earlier this week, the Prime Minister told MPs when it came to Labour’s policy of a customs union and the Conservatives’ policy of a customs arrangement, it was all down to a matter of semantics; suggesting some form of cross-party accommodation could be reached.

Mr Hunt warned that if politicians did not resolve Brexit, then they would have "failed as a political class" in doing what Labour and the Tories promised at the last General Election.

The Foreign Secretary also said:

*Brexit had been made harder to deliver by regular leaking from Cabinet meetings;

*having the use of a royal yacht or plane were "attractive" but there were "other priorities" for his department and

*he would want to lead a global campaign to improve healthcare safety standards if he were to leave politics.