Independent euro MP Steven Woolfe said the number of countries against starting trade talks with Britain is “narrowing” as European capitals become spooked by the prospect of no-deal.
And he revealed that EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has seemed “frustrated” with his ultra restrictive mandate in recent meetings with MEPs, suggesting he wants it changed.
Mr Woolfe made the remarks before it emerged that the Frenchman has asked member states to tweak his negotiating guidelines to allow for the opening of talks on a transitional period.
However, he despite garnering support from most EU countries he was turned down by Germany, France and Romania who want to squeeze more promises of cash out of UK taxpayers first.
Berlin has taken by far the hardest stance in the Brexit negotiations to date and is insisting that Britain agrees to a written down bill before it will countenance trade talks beginning.
And at a recent meeting with Mr Barnier, some prominent German MEPs even questioned the “logic” of having a transitional deal with the UK at all, arguing it would just create more uncertainty for business there.
However, other member states appear to be increasingly coming around to the idea that the EU needs to make a move to break the deadlock following a slew of high-profile concessions from Theresa May.
Earlier this week Denmark’s finance minister broke ranks with his fellow ministers and told Brussels to get on with securing sufficient progress in a clear sign of jangling nerves in some capitals.
And speaking to express.co.uk in Brussels, former Ukip MEP Mr Woolfe said: “There are those who feel that the EU has overplayed its hand. The Scandinavians and Dutch and Denmark want to get on with it.
“The numbers of countries that are holding it up seem to be narrowing to the French and the Germans and others are beginning to suggest that they need to be more proactive, so as a Government we need to identify which countries are holding it up.
“The vast majority of MEPs are aware that there are delays in the negotiating process and most of them are coming to the conclusion that this is a strategic decision being made at the top levels of the EU.
“None of us can put our fingers on who exactly is behind the damaging of the negotiations and the attempts to keep Britain in. Most of the MEPs will look up to Merkel, Macron and Juncker and say any direction on strategy is being directed by those people.”
Mr Woolfe also revealed how the EU’s chief negotiator told MEPs at a recent meeting that he has the “resources and capability” to conduct parallel divorce and trade talks but is “restricted legally from doing so”.
He said: “I think he’s getting frustrated that he’s being blamed for the delay on this and in conversations I’ve had and listened to I sense that he wants to move this on but it’s the council and therefore some of the countries that are holding Britain up.”
The independent MEP also voiced fears that some senior EU figures, including the European Council president Donald Tusk, are part of a hardline group “that are looking to delay, damage and ultimately deny Brexit”.
And he added that British negotiators blundered early on by just seeking to win over Mrs Merkel, praising recent attempts by Boris Johnson, Liam Fox and David Davis to reach out to other, more friendly capitals.
He said: “Tusk could instruct Barnier to embark on negotiations, he has that power and influence but he’s decided not to use it. I don’t think that our British advisors fully understand how to negotiate with Europe.
“By just concentrating their fire on Germany it made the mistake of making others feel that they aren’t important enough to even be at the table. Therefore the need for an outreach programme is even more important than ever before.”