Mr Varoufakis said Mrs May’s withdrawal agreement should be “ditched” because the fixed deadline effectively extended what he called the “phoney negotiation” until the final day of the transition period. Writing in the Telegraph, he urged her to instead focus on two very different outcomes. He explained: “There are two dominant strategies a UK government must choose between: the no-deal strategy favoured by the European Research Group that leaves no room to Brussels to respond, except by making unilateral concessions; and an indefinite customs union deal favoured by Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, which the EU negotiators cannot reject even if they wanted to.
“That these two are both dominant strategies does not mean that they are equally attractive.
“But at the very least, focusing on them clears the fog caused by defections from the two main parties, and from Mrs May’s confused obstinacy, and concentrates the mind on the only two options that can annul the fixed deadline effect which has so unnecessarily toxified British, and European, politics.”
Mr Varofakis also said Mrs May was wasting her time continuing to negotiate with the bloc, claiming European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker had “no incentive” to offer any meaningful concessions.
He accused her of making “an elementary mistake” in agreeing to a two-phase negotiation whereby Britain accepted the EU’s demands before discussing its own, and dismissed the idea of extending Article 50 as “delusional”.
Speaking in November, Mr Varoufakis said Mrs May would “live to regret” not opting for a Norway-style Brexit.
He told BBC’s Newsnight: “Once the European Union presents a deal on the table, it is take it or leave it.
“There is no way it can be unpicked or that it will be somehow substantially changed either by Theresa May or by any other government.
He added: “There are no negotiations going on in Brussels.”
His most recent remarks came on the day Mrs May promised to give MPs a vote on extending Brexit negotiations or withdrawing from the EU without a deal if her plan is rejected next month.
In a dramatic statement to the House of Commons, Mrs May confirmed that she will put her Withdrawal Agreement – including whatever additional assurances she has secured from Brussels – to a “meaningful vote” by March 12.
If that fails, MPs will be offered two separate votes on the following days – one on a no-deal Brexit and, if that is defeated, the other on requesting an extension to the two-year Article 50 negotiation process to delay EU withdrawal beyond March 29.
The sequence of votes will be proposed in an amendable motion tabled by the Prime Minister for debate and vote in the Commons on Wednesday.
She told MPs: “They are commitments I am making as Prime Minister and I will stick by them, as I have previous commitments to make statements and table amendable motions by specific dates.”
But she added: “Let me be clear, I do not want to see Article 50 extended. Our absolute focus should be on working to get a deal and leaving on March 29.”
If MPs vote for an extension, the Government will “seek to agree that extension approved by the House with the EU, and bring forward the necessary legislation to change the exit date commensurate with that extension”, said Mrs May.
The Prime Minister said that an extension of Article 50 beyond the end of June would require the UK to take part in European Parliament elections in May and that a shorter extension would “almost certainly have to be a one-off”.
“An extension cannot take no-deal off the table,” she warned. “The only way to do that is to revoke Article 50, which I shall not do, or agree a deal.”