France has warned Britain to expect a bruising battle with the EU in post-Brexit trade negotiations.
"I think that on trade issues and the mechanism for future relations, which we are going to start on, we are going to rip each other apart," said France's foreign minister Jean-Yves le Drian. "But that is part of negotiations: everyone will defend their own interests."
Le Drian gave his prediction during the Munich Security Conference, as both sides prepare to begin negotiations on the UK's future relationship with the bloc. He also said it would be tough for the UK to achieve its aim of agreeing a free trade deal by the end of the year.
I think that on trade issues and the mechanism for future relations, which we are going to start on, we are going to rip each other apart"
Negotiations for a deal on future EU-UK relations are not due to start until next month, but London and Brussels have already clashed over rules for British financial firms' access to the EU after Brexit.
UK prime minister Boris Johnson argues that the EU has imposed looser requirements in trade deals with other partners such as Canada, but Brussels insists that the degree of integration between the EU and UK economies means different standards need to apply.
The UK government said it wanted a deal based on "friendly co-operation between sovereign equals".
The UK's chief negotiator David Frost is set to make it clear that Johnson will walk away from talks with the EU, unless it drops what he calls its "ridiculous and unreasonable" demands. Frost is expected to give more details of the UK's negotiating aims in a speech in Brussels later this Monday.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and chief negotiator Michel Barnier have both also cast doubt on Boris Johnson's aim to reach a comprehensive agreement by the end of the year.
Britain formally left the EU two weeks ago but still trades as a full member during the one-year transition period.