Prime Minister Theresa May has suggested she could have an ally for Brexit negotiations in the Danish prime minister.

Mrs May said after meeting Lars-Lokke Rasmussen in Copenhagen that he wants to "stand up for free trade", an issue on which the UK and Denmark "firmly agrees" on.

The Prime Minister's comments came as Britain's apparent stand-off with most European leaders over the terms of Brexit continued.

Mrs May told the Tory Party conference last week that she wanted Britain to have "maximum freedom" to trade with and operate in the single market free trade zone, but made clear she would not give up control over immigration.

But European leaders have inidcated that ending the free movement of EU citizens would put Britain out of the single market, leading to claims that ministers are pursuing a "hard Brexit" strategy.

Speaking alongside Mr Rasmussen after their talks, the PM said: "As you have said Lars, we want to stand up for free trade - we want to ensure that people recognise the importance of free trade as a spur to economic growth.

"That is something on which I think we think very much alike and on which we firmly agree and we certainly want to be taking that argument forward and continuing to promote free trade."

Mrs May also reiterated her wish to guarantee the rights of EU nationals living in the UK, as long as British expats receive similar guarantees.

She went on: "The UK is leaving the EU but we're not turning our back on Europe and we want to maintain strong, positive relations with our European partners like Denmark, and I am committed to doing just that.

"But of course we are leaving the EU so if I turn to Brexit, as I said last week we will formally trigger the process of leaving no later than the end of March next year and I hope it can be a smooth an orderly departure.

"That's in the interests of Britain but I think it's in the interests of other European countries as well."

After her trip to Denmark, the Prime Minister was travelling to the Netherlands for talks with her Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte and to put forward her case for a fair exit deal.

Her visit comes amid growing cross-party calls at home for a Commons vote on the Government's stance in upcoming withdrawal negotiations under Article 50 of the EU treaties.

Mr Rasmussen said there would have to be a "balance" of rights in any Brexit deal.

But his comments were not as hardline as assertions from the likes of German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Francois Hollande, who insist that free movement is a condition of single market membership.

"Denmark wants the UK and the EU to remain as close as possible in the future," the Danish PM said.

"We should aim for a friendly divorce, that will be our starting point in the coming negotiations.

"Of course an agreement will have to balance rights and obligations."

Mr Rasmussen also said it was "tragic" that the UK was leaving the EU and that Denmark, one of the more Eurosceptic members of the bloc, would miss it.