Philip Hammond has said he “regrets” calling the European Union “the enemy” in the Brexit negotiations.
The chancellor faced criticism on Friday after he was asked about accusations from within the Tory party that he is taking too soft an approach to Brexit.
The Tory minister said it was time for the Conservatives to cease their in-fighting over the Brexit talks and said the “opponents” were on the “other side of the table”.
“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,” he told Sky News.
“The enemy, the opponents, are out there on the other side of the table.
“Those are the people that we have to negotiate with. We have to negotiate hard to get the very best deal for Britain.”
Hammond, who is one of the most vocal advocates of a “soft Brexit” later said he regretted his “poor choice of words”.
He tweeted that the UK will work “with our friends and partners in the EU, adding #NoEnemiesHere.
Hammond was speaking in Washington on the sidelines of a series of International Monetary Fund meetings.
His comments came just hours after EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the UK “has to pay” if Britain wants talks to begin on a future trade deal with the EU.
Hammond was criticised this week by some Conservatives, including former finance minister Nigel Lawson, for not agreeing to spend money now on preparations for the possibility of Britain leaving the EU without a deal.
Lawson said on Thursday that Hammond’s position on Brexit was “close to sabotage” and called for the chancellor to be sacked.
Hammond said on Friday that Lawson was “entitled to his own opinion on this”.