According to the austrian chancellor, Christian Kern, the European Union must ensure that the United Kingdom is worse off outside of the EU when it leaves the trading bloc. Prime Minister Theresa May's self-imposed timetable has her preparing to trigger article 50 to set in motion the exit process by the end of March.

'Clubs should have special privileges'

Addressing the press, Christian Kern said: 'A member of an exclusive club should have better conditions and privileges than those outside of the club-our British friends must be fully aware that nothing else can come of these negotiations.

Any other result would be tantamount to a capitulation by Europe'.

Other European leaders have made their stance on Brexit public. Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission President, warned against the United Kingdom attempting to promise special privileges to the telecommunications, chemical and steel industries. Juncker continued, stating: 'Special privileges could undermine the European Union. It is in the EU's best interest that there is no special arrangements for the UK'.

In an interview with Germany’s Deutschlandfunk radio, Juncker demanded that Europe was united in such politically tumultuous times. Junker said: 'The EU 27 don't know yet, but it is in the UK's best interest to promise country A a certain something, country B a certain something else, and country C a certain something else.

If Britain is successful in achieving this, the endgame would be a European front that is not united'.

May faces tough negotiating period

Given the remit presented to Theresa May last week in parliament, Britain almost certainly appears to be heading towards a hard Brexit. The House of Commons rejected nine amendments to the Brexit bill, including guarantees of the rights of EU citizens living in the United Kingdom.

Once Theresa May triggers article 50, negotiations to leave the European Union are scheduled to take around two years. As negotiations approach, European leaders have made it patently clear that they will take a hard line with Britain over the course of the next two years.