Senior figures in the EU believe that Britain will give up on Brexit if they make negotiations as tough as possible, the Telegraph understands.
British officials are fighting to stop Europe adopting a no-compromise position in talks in the hope that the UK will change its mind about leaving the bloc.
This belief is fuelling the hardline message on issues like freedom of movement that have emerged from Berlin, Paris and Brussels in recent weeks.
More than five senior EU figures interviewed by the Telegraph this week expressed doubts that Britain would go through with Brexit when confronted by the “reality of the bureaucratic nightmare” and the “insane act of economic self-harm”, as they referred to Brexit.
One senior British official involved in the set up for the coming negotiations said the EU elite “seem to think the game is to make us change our minds”.
This stance has left officials fighting to explain to European leaders how “dangerous” a game they were playing, and how “unlikely” it was to succeed.
Here is the full story. Speculative of course, but don’t forget this bit:
“Perhaps there was a time when this could not have got nasty,” said one source close to Mr Verhofstadt, “but when the Brexit minister calls the chief negotiator ‘Satan’ what response, really, does Britain expect?”
Do they really spell “fuelling” with two l’s?