“My personal belief is they will never notify” the EU about their intention to leave, a senior EU diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

A state leaving the EU must formally notify the European Council of all 28 EU leaders under Article 50 of the 2007 Lisbon Treaty, setting the clock ticking on a two-year period for Britain to negotiate its divorce.

“We want London to trigger Article 50 now, to have clarity. I expect, as we can’t force them, for them to take their time,” the diplomat added.

“And I would not exclude, it’s my personal belief, that they may never do it.”

The official did not specify if he believed Britain would avoid it by holding a new referendum, or simply dragging out the process to extract a better divorce deal, but said all such decisions were up to London.