France has warned that the UK faces a bruising battle with the EU over their post-Brexit relationship.
French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned that both sides would “rip each other up” as they strove for advantage in the talks.
Other senior EU figures have also previously spoken out about negotiations, with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and chief negotiator Michel Barnier both casting doubt on Boris Johnson's aim to reach a comprehensive agreement by the end of the year.
The UK formally left the EU on January 31 but has a transition period to work out terms till December 31.
Speaking at the Munich security conference Sunday, Mr Le Drian said: “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.
“But that is part of negotiations: everyone will defend their own interests.”
His warning comes ahead of a speech on Monday by the UK’s chief Brexit adviser, David Frost.
Mr Frost, who is tasked with leading on trade talks, is expected to say that chances of a deal are being undermined by Brussels insistence that it sticks to rules created by the EU.
He will call for the EU to give the UK a deal similar to terms found in Canada and Japan.
One of the toughest negotiations is thought to be over fishing rights after the EU insisted on access to UK waters.
In turn, Mr Johnson said the UK will take control of its fisheries and act as an independent coastal state.
“Our approach is clear - we are not asking for anything special, bespoke or unique, but are looking for a deal like those the EU has struck previously with other friendly countries like Canada,” a Downing Street spokesman told the BBC.
"We want a relationship based on friendly cooperation between sovereign equals, one centered on free trade and inspired by our shared history and values."