Jeremy Hunt today warned Theresa May a deal with Labour would be a mistake - but urged her not to quit until Brexit is delivered.
The Foreign Secretary, who is touring Africa on a trip seen as the launch of his leadership campaign, suggested he hopes talks with Jeremy Corbyn fail if it leads to the softest possible Brexit, calling it 'bad policy'.
Speaking to the Mail on his five-day trip, Mr Hunt said it was 'very difficult to imagine a Rose Garden moment' – a reference to the 2010 coalition agreement between the Tories and Lib Dems.
He said Labour were much more divided on Brexit than the Tories, raising the question of whether Jeremy Corbyn was 'serious about delivering Brexit'.
He said: 'There is always a danger of doing a deal with Labour that you lose more Conservative MPs than you gain Labour MPs, but I think the essential question is whether Labour are serious about delivering Brexit'.
When asked about the PM being forced out her Foreign Secretary said: 'Just changing the leader doesn't actually change the parliamentary arithmetic.
'So, I think, what it would do is create delay in the process and mean that we will have another period of time through which we have Brexit paralysis.'
Mr Hunt is in Accra, Ghana, today meeting one of the country's undercover journalists Anas Aremeyaw, who is forced to wear a disguise, and the pair posed for an extraordinary photograph together today.
A Labour source told the newspaper: 'There wasn't complete movement but there was movement.'
The talks are expected to run into next week after several hours of discussions led by Mrs May's deputy, David Lidington, and John McDonnell, Labour's shadow chancellor.
Yesterday Jeremy Hunt donned a battle helmet as he took the wheel of a Royal Marines boat in West Africa.
The Foreign Secretary, one of the front runners in the race to replace Theresa May, took to the water with British forces and their Senegalese counterparts off the capital, Dakar.
Politicians love to look tough when there is an election coming and Mr Hunt also posed with a machine gun on the second day of a six-day trip to Africa with the goal of boosting trade and diplomatic links as the UK seeks post-Brexit allies.
Wearing a white short-sleeved shirt and tan chino trousers he took the wheel of the rigid inflatable boat (RIB) during the demonstration by the marines.
The week-long trip, on which he is being accompanied by his wife Lucia, takes in five countries - Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Kenya.
On what is his first trip to Africa as Foreign Secretary, Mr Hunt will seek to increase the UK's presence in French-speaking parts of the continent where it has previously played a more minor role.
With the UK set to leave the European Union, Mr Hunt said he wanted to work 'within and alongside' African nations to tackle international threats and forge new opportunities.
As part of the drive to expand British influence, the UK is funding a new almost £4 million English language programme in French and Portuguese-speaking countries aimed at reaching 7.5 million young people a year.
The English Connect programme will be launched by Mr Hunt in Senegal's capital Dakar.
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