The President of the European Parliament has warned of growing impatience among the continent's leaders over Britain's continued demands - saying colleagues tell him: “If the Brits want to leave, let them leave.”
Martin Schulz maintained he was “a strong supporter” of the UK staying in the European Union, despite frustration amid the on-going renegotiation of the UK's role within the block.
He made the comments during his visit to the UK, which comes just days after British prime minister David Cameron returned from Brussels with draft measures he hopes to make “legally binding and irreversible” later this month at the EU Council Summit.
In an interview with Sky News, Mr Schulz cast doubts on this assumption, saying: "Nothing in our lives is irreversible. Therefore legally binding decisions are also reversible - nothing is irreversible.
"Nothing in our lives is irreversible. Therefore legally binding decisions are also reversible
"But in politics, when 28 heads of states and governments and the European institutions together on the 19 February agree about a deal, the deal is done."
Mr Schulz is currently on a two-day UK visit, during which he met with Mr Cameron on Thursday and managed to secure an agreement from him to address the European Parliament’s group leaders ahead of the Council Summit.
And speaking at the London School of Economics on Friday, he said: “The British often test our patience and good will with their continuous demands. They are demanding. They push hard. They insist. They just don't let go."
He said that, behind closed doors, colleagues told him: "Don't stop a rolling stone. If the Brits want to leave, let them leave."
But he insisted that he believed the EU was “stronger and better” with the UK as a member.
“Anyone who comes with proposals which are in the best interest of all is welcome with open arms," he said.
“But proposals which cater to narrow self-interests, risk undermining the common good, or would set dangerous precedents for a Europe à la carte will meet with resistance from the European Parliament.”
Mr Schulz made clear in his speech “the currency of the European Union is the euro”, and there “is simply no need for further clarification".
On the discussion of benefits, he said: “Allow me to say this very clearly: The European Parliament will support all proposals which fairly address real problems which may emerge from free movement - as long as they do not cause discrimination and undermine European values.”
“The big picture is that the UK and the EU both stand to win by remaining together.”
He added: “The big picture is that the UK and the EU both stand to win by remaining together.”
The visit also coincided with the release of a new YouGov poll which suggests a record lead for the 'Out' campaign.
According to the results, 45 per cent of those asked intend to vote out, and increase of three points on last week.
Meanwhile, 36 per cent of voters said they wanted the UK to remain in the EU, while 19 per cent are undecided.Reuse content