BRITAIN could be heading for a no-deal Brexit, “by accident”, the Foreign Secretary has claimed.

Jeremy Hunt, who took over from Boris Johnson last month, is currently on a diplomatic tour of Europe, meeting his opposite numbers.

During talks in Austria, Hunt warned of a collapse in talks between Britain and the EU.

“This is not project fear, this is project reality,” Hunt told a press conference in Vienna alongside his Austrian counterpart, Karin Kneissl.

READ MORE: Huge gaffe as Jeremy Hunt tells Beijing hosts his Chinese wife is Japanese

“We have to make a decision on Britain’s future relationship with the EU by the end of this year and we have to be very honest with ourselves about the choices that we face.

“At the moment we are heading for no deal by accident.”

Hunt’s comments came as Downing Street announced that Theresa May was cutting short her summer holiday in the Italian lakes to meet with French president Emmanuel Macron in his country retreat on the Mediterranean coast tomorrow.

The National:

The Prime Minister will to try to persuade the Frenchman to soften his approach to Brexit, warning him of the dangers of no deal for France and the EU.

Hunt said a hard Brexit would “have a profound impact on the relations between Britain and EU countries for a generation”.

“Let’s not make this one of those moments where a terrible mistake is made which we are still talking about in 20 or 30 years,” he added.

“Let’s have a pragmatic solution that allows that deep and special partnership, friendship, between the UK and Europe to continue.”

Meanwhile, a leading think tank has claimed that the Tory government’s new Chequers plan for a post-Brexit deal with Europe would effectively see everyone in Britain around £500 per year worse off.

READ MORE: The only way to prevent Brexit mess is to leave the UK

The National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) calculated UK gross domestic product would be 2.5% lower over the next decade than if the UK chose a soft Brexit similar to Norway’s relationship with the EU.

It means that while the Chequers deal is a softer Brexit, it will still leave the UK considerably weaker than the status quo.

If it is a harder Brexit then the figure would be closer to £800.

The SNP’s Westminster Europe spokesperson, Peter Grant, said: “This latest analysis, which warns that a no-deal outcome would hit the UK’s economy to the tune of £800 per person per year, has fallen on deaf ears within Theresa May’s Cabinet.”

He added: “With only eight months left before the UK leaves the EU, there is still an opportunity for Theresa May to adopt a cross-party and cross-nations approach, which seeks to step back from the brink of a hard Brexit, and safeguards our economic and social interests.”

However, May’s time at the top may not last too much longer.

Johnson, who quit the Government over the Chequers plan, was yesterday named as the Tory grassroots choice to replace Theresa May.

The National:

In a survey conducted by the Conservative Home website, Johnson was backed by 29% of respondents.

Last month he was fifth in the survey, enjoying the support of just 8% of respondents.

But his resignation from government and his attacks on the Chequers plan has seen his support more than triple.

The last time he led the poll was in March 2016, just ahead of the Brexit referendum.

READ MORE: This is the most likely independence timetable

Home Secretary Sajid Javid was the second most popular on 19%, while prominent backbench Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg came in third on 13%.

The survey also found a record fall of confidence in May, with over two in five party members wanting her out of office now.

The Conservative Home poll is not radically different from the findings of a YouGov poll carried out for a Sunday newspaper that found that just 16% of voters think May is handling Brexit well compared to 34% who believe Johnson would do a better job.

That poll, published last month, also revealed that only 11% of voters said they would support May’s Chequers vision for Brexit in a new referendum and just 12% think it would be good for Britain.