Britain’s finance minister Philip Hammond has said he regrets his "poor choice" of words after branding the European Union the "enemy".

Mr Hammond, who has faced criticism from some Conservatives colleagues over his gloomy approach to Brexit, dismissed "bizarre" and "absurd" accusations that he is talking down Britain's economy.

But admitting that "passions are high" in the party, Mr Hammond insisted he was fully signed up to the plans for Britain's exit and said the enemy is in Brussels.

Speaking in Washington, where he is attending the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund, he told Sky News: "I understand that passions are high, I understand that people have very strong views about this but we are all going to the same place.

"We all have the same agenda, we all signed up to the Prime Minister's Lancaster House speech, we're all signed up to the Article 50 letter, we're all behind the speech that she made in Florence.

"The enemy, the opponents, are out there on the other side of the table. Those are the people that we have to negotiate with to get the very best deal for Britain."

Around 30 minutes later, however, Mr Hammond rowed back from the comments and talked instead of Britain's "friends and partners" in the EU.

He tweeted: "In an interview today I was making the point that we are united at home. I regret I used a poor choice of words.

"We will work with our friends and partners in the EU on a mutually beneficial Brexit deal #noenemieshere."

Taoiseach is 'confident' a hard Brexit will not happen

Mr Hammond has come under fire from pro-Brexit Tories furious at what they see as his reluctance to prepare for the prospect Britain could leave the EU without a deal if talks in Brussels collapse.

Former chancellor Nigel Lawson has led the calls for Prime Minister Theresa May to sack him, describing his actions as "very close to sabotage".

But in an interview with the BBC, Mr Hammond - who has consistently argued for a "softer" Brexit - insisted that he was "committed" to gaining the best possible outcome for Britain and called on the EU to move forward in the negotiations.

He said: "Let's move forward like grown-ups to talk about our future relationship, resolve any differences that we have and get to a clearer understanding of how we are going to work and live together in the future."

"Let's behave like grown-ups, let's talk about the vision for the future, let's discuss it together and let's get this thing moving."

Earlier, Downing Street dismissed reports of a deepening rift between the Prime Minister and the Chancellor, saying she still had full confidence in him.

The Sun quoted one Cabinet source as saying that relations between the two had become so difficult, that they "can't bear to be alone together in a room".

However a No 10 spokeswoman said: "They have a very good working relationship and they work very closely together."