BRUSSELS boss Jean-Claude Juncker has admitted the EU could crack and give Britain a better Brexit deal.
In candid remarks the EU Commission chief said pressure from big businesses on the continent will drive a wedge between member states.
He predicted that individual countries will start squabbling over where to allow the UK ongoing access to the Single Market.
His comments will come as a huge boost to British negotiators who are trying to pick apart the bloc’s opposition to “cherry picking”.
Mr Juncker insisted he wants Britain to be a “privileged partner” of the club, but also issued a coded warning to Theresa May to stop dithering over her position on trade.
He said: “It will be more difficult to keep together the 27 EU member states during the second step of the negotiations because the economic industries, the multinationals, will try to convince their respective governments to say yes to this or that British proposal.”
The EU chief predicted this would lead to “several extras, several exceptions” for the British “that will make Europe a mess”.
And in a jibe at the PM, he added: “Our idea is to make the UK a privileged partner of the EU.
“However the UK has to respect its own decision. The UK decided to leave the EU – Brexit means Brexit.”
Mr Juncker’s remarks came as cracks emerged within the EU27 over whether to offer Britain continued cooperation on banking after it leaves the club.
Charles Grant, the director of the respected Centre for European Reform think tank, said there are 10 member states set to rebel against Germany and France’s hardline stance on Brexit.
It also emerged yesterday that the EU will dismiss Britain’s plea for a special Brexit deal on financial services.
Eurocrats have said the UK will not be allowed to keep banking access to the Single Market when it quits the club.
EU officials want to cut the City of London down to size, believing it is in their own long term interests.
And hardliners like France are also looking to exploit Brexit to lure big finance firms away from the UK.
The announcement is a blow to Chancellor Philip Hammond who has been pressing the City’s case in Brussels.
European diplomats agreed not to offer a special deal akin to Single Market access at a secret seminar on Tuesday.
One official said: “There was a strong Commission message that there would be no special deal. The UK is being told from the beginning what the situation is.”
A British banker close to the talks added: “They have made it very clear to us that this is
unacceptable to them. This was our best and frankly only proposal. We don’t have a plan B.”
However, the meeting also exposed splits within the bloc as Paris and Berlin clashed over how hard to be on the UK.
Germany is part of a group of countries, including Sweden and Luxembourg, who want to seal future cooperation by keeping rules closely aligned after Brexit.
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