European leaders have reportedly come to a 27-nation consensus that the UK must be forced into a hard Brexit in order to counter the rise of populist movements which could break up the European Union.
Senior EU officials fear allowing Britain to exit on its own terms could empower far-right candidates in France and Germany, which represent an existential danger to the bloc.
One EU diplomat told told The Observer: “If you British are not prepared to compromise on free movement, the only way to deal with Brexit is hard Brexit.
“Otherwise we would be seen to be giving in to a country that is leaving. That would be fatal.”