Independent euro MP Steven Woolfe said the European side will only “worry” about dealing with the UK when they are made to realise that it has “reached the end of its tether”.
He said British ministers must show strong leadership and play hardball with Brussels to earn their respect and Theresa May’s recent announcement she is preparing for no-deal was “the right thing to do”.
Mr Woolfe, a former Ukip representative, revealed how senior figures in the City of London are also frustrated that the Government is not using its resources in Brussels effectively.
He said top financiers have expressed concern that the UK is not exploiting its contacts within the EU institutions and European capitals well enough to try and unstick the negotiations.
In a wide-ranging interview with express.co.uk in Brussels, the qualified barrister said Mrs May needs to channel the approaches of Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher to Europe in order to achieve the best deal.
He said: “At the moment the EU thinks that Britain are weak because they’ve removed the power of leaving on WTO terms off the table. Europeans are only worried about Britain when they realise we’ve had enough and no more.
“Only when we’ve got a leader who’s willing do do one of those two actions and show Britain has reached the end of its tether will they start to negotiate. The removal of that threat to walk away has weakened Britain in the minds of a lot of the negotiators here.
“That’s what they’ve been waiting for and only now will some start to take us seriously when we’ve had the threat back on the table of leaving with WTO terms.”
Mr Woolfe said the PM’s announcement she is setting up a team of civil servants to plan for a no-deal Brexit was “exactly the right thing” and added: “Without the threat of WTO and not paying the bills then we have permanent weakness. Only until we have that threat will the EU take us seriously.”
Asked how he felt the UK unilaterally taking no-deal off the table, as some critics have suggested Mrs May should, would affect the deal Britain could get, he replied: “It will never be great because it’s a sign of weakness from their perspective.”
On that subject, Mr Woolfe said that he and some of his eurosceptic colleagues fear there is a “slow Remainer coup” taking place in Britain to undermine and ultimately overturn the Brexit result.
He said a string of high-profile appearances by prominent europhiles – including former PM Tony Blair who has held meetings with EU boss Jean-Claude Juncker – pointed to such an attempt getting under way.
And he added that the decision by 27 British MEP, most from Labour but two from the Tories, to side with the EU and vote against triggering trade talks last week provided further evidence.
Meanwhile, within Westminster he said there were attempts under way to “isolate” key Brexitters like Boris Johnson and David Davis, the latter of which recently lost his chief civil servant Olly Robbins to Downing Street.
Mr Woolfe said: “We think over the last few weeks there has been a slow Remainer coup in the sense that we see them now attacking the key Brexiteers, isolating them like with Boris and the campaign to get rid of him, the view that Olly Robbins was taken off David Davis and the isolation of David Davis.
“It all seems to fit that there’s this slow Remainer coup beginning on Brexit and we think this is being ramped up and we think they are all coming together to do this kind of coup on the leaders of Brexit.
“Here the part and parcel of that was the 27 MEPs who decided to vote against Britain even entering into trade talks with the EU. There’s no excuse for trying to damage the long-term economic prosperity of Britain for short-term political ends of these individuals who want to stop Brexit.”