EU leaders losing patience with UK and minded to 'let Brits go'
European leaders are so exasperated with Britain's demands that they are privately saying "If the Brits want to leave, let them leave", the President of the European Parliament has said.
Martin Schulz made the comments at a speech at the London School of Economics.
He set out why he wants Britain to stay within the European Union, but admitted that the UK "often tests our patience".
Mr Schulz also said that MEPs could amend some of David Cameron's EU reforms after the referendum, telling Sky News that "nothing is irreversible", in apparent contradiction of Mr Cameron's claims that the reforms would be binding.
He said: "Europe needs the UK, with its foreign policy experience and clout, its open market policies and its trade track record if we want to have hope of solving any of these crises - and even more so, if we want to maintain the global security architecture and shape the future world order.
"This is why personally I am a strong supporter of the UK remaining in EU. And this, despite the fact - and I admit this quite frankly - that the British often test our patience and goodwill with their continuous demands.
"I believe we need the UK to make the European Union stronger and better. And to make something stronger and better, sometimes it's necessary to push hard and be critical.
"They are demanding. They push hard. They insist. They just don't let go. Many of my colleagues say behind closed doors, 'Don't stop a rolling stone. If the Brits want to leave, let them leave.'
"I do not support this line that just because the UK can be frustrating it would be in our interest to let it go. I believe we need the UK to make the EU stronger and better. When the UK says it wants to make the EU more democratic, more transparent, more competitive and less bureaucratic, I am in!"
Mr Schulz said that he expected this process to take weeks or months.
Meanwhile, the proposals for reforming the EU have failed to win over Britons, with 45pc intending to vote for the UK to leave, according to polling.
Support for Brexit has increased in the face of a package of measures that would change the UK's relationship with Brussels, a survey for 'The Times' found.