FORMER Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis said that the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has been placed in the role to ensure talks fail.

Mr Varoufakis, who himself did battle with a number of EU institutions during crunch talks during the Greek debt crisis, said the Brexit talks have been designed to fail, during an interview at the SuperReturn International conference.

The economist said: “Barnier was appointed to make sure these discussions failed.

“If you look at the way he operates, he operates like a typical Brussels representative, who comes into any discussion with Mr Davis or Mrs May with a checklist.

“There are boxes there. He has to check them. He has no mandate to negotiate the things that London has to negotiate.

“So these discussions were structured in a manner leading to their demise or failure.”

Mr Varoufakis said Theresa May should abandon the talks and apply for a Norway-style agreement. This would keep Britain in the single market apparatus but away from the political structures of the Brussels bloc.

He said: “What do you do when you are caught up in a process which is designed to fail? You just get out of that process and there are two ways of getting out.

“One is the WTO agreement and say look, bye. Walk out. I’m not recommending that because it would be mutually disadvantageous for everyone.

“Or to say, Britain is going to file for a Norway-style five year period agreement, which is renewable.

“This is going to give parliament the chance to have the debate that it has never had, about what type of long-term arrangements it wants between the EU and the UK.

“Thus restoring sovereignty to the House Of Commons, which is a very Brexit argument.

“The Norway-style agreement keeps Britain in the single market, it restores sovereignty when it comes to fisheries, to agriculture and allows the British public and the House of Commons to have the discussion that never really took place sensibly prior to the referendum on what kind of Brexit there should be.”

Significant differences remain between British negotiators and Brussels as talks head into the last year of the Article 50 process.

A key stumbling block is the Irish border where the UK’s desire to leave the customs union raises the prospect of a hard-border, which could scupper the entire process should Ireland choose to wield its veto.