JEAN-CLAUDE Juncker has warned Britain not to create a divide-and-rule Brexit in the forthcoming withdrawal negotiations as the Austrian leader made clear the UK had to have a worse deal outside the EU than the one it currently had inside.

The European Commission President insisted that Theresa May and her colleagues should refrain from attempting to play off the remaining 27 EU member states against each other for advantage.

Speaking in Brussels, he said there could be no "special discussions" between Britain and individual member states.

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"In the pre-negotiations and during the negotiations themselves, a situation could arise whereby the UK Government might attempt to or wish to be obliging to certain member states in certain economic zones and certain sectors whereby those countries might to wish to provide certain advantages for the UK.

"It is in our interests, therefore, that we don't have any special discussions on, say, chemicals or telecommunications or other sectors with certain individual countries," explained Mr Juncker after concluding talks with Christian Kern, the Austrian Chancellor, who strongly backed his call for EU leaders to present a united front in the talks.

"If you want to be a member of a club you have better conditions, obviously, than if you want to be outside the club. I am sure our British friends are aware of that in this negotiation process," Mr Kern insisted.

"That is the only possible outcome. Anything else would be capitulation on the part of Europe. We have got to stand together and maintain this principle right to the end," he added.

Meantime, David Davis, on a Brexit charm offensive in Scandinavia, said the UK was seeking an outcome that was "good for Britain and good for the European Union".

In Helsinki for talks with Timo Soini, the Finnish Foreign Minister, the Brexit Secretary said: "We want a successful EU. We want our next-door neighbour to be highly successful, highly stable, highly safe. All the things that you would wish for your friends.

"So we're not talking about a break-up, we're talking about a new relationship. That's what we want to see," he declared.

Mr Soini said Finland would approach the Brexit negotiations in a "constructive spirit".

"We know what everybody wants is very difficult and it has its challenges but we can overcome them. And, of course, as like-minded countries, the UK was a good partner for us. We want to conduct the negotiation in a constructive spirit but there must be a balance between the rights and obligations," he added.