The admission was made by European Commission president JEan-Claude Juncker’s second-in-command Martin Selmayr in a dramatic BBC Panorama documentary that aired on Thursday night. Presenter Nick Robinson explained: “Ever since the referendum, some at the very top of the EU dared to hope that Brexit could be stopped. Now events would bring the two sides together – events and Donald Trump.
“When he came to the G7 summit in Canadia in 2017, he met Juncker and Donald Tusk and Theresa May too.
“In public it was all smiles but behind the scenes Donald Trump clashed with the others on Iran, climate change and trade before abandoning the summit to meet the president of North Korea.”
Mr Robinson’s guest Martin Selmayr added: “The leaders of the world saw that Donald Trump is serious and that he really wants to disrupt the global order.
“And all the other European leaders were left behind when he took the helicopter.
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“And I think people looked at each other and also at Theresa May and thought ‘my goodness, we all agree we are the last bastion of the rules-based international system’.”
Nick Robinson questioned: “So because of Trump, suddenly the UK and the EU leaders felt a bit closer to each other?”
Mr Selmayr answered unequivocally: “Yes, and I think that led to many thinking ‘if she comes back tomorrow and thought again about Brexit, we wouldn’t mind.’”
Mr Robinson concluded that, as a result of this lull in tension, Mr Selmayr secretly invited Mrs May’s defacto deputy David Lidington to lunch in order to discuss “sitting on” Brexit for five years to see how the “dust settled”.
“We have seen what we have prepared on our side of the border for a hard Brexit, we don’t see the same level of preparation on the other side of the border.
“You would have to establish a lot of authority in the United Kingdom that you don’t have at this moment in time so I think the European Union have been very well prepared for that.
“We could live with a hard Brexit, we don’t think the same level of preparation is there on the UK side.”
Mr Selmayr is set to leave his post following the confirmation of former German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen as the next president of the European Commission.
The German-born civil servant oversaw Jean-Claude Juncker’s rise to power before being parachuted into his previous role.