Anxious by immigration and loss of sovereignty, Britain previous year voted to end its decades-old membership of the 28-country bloc - the first state ever to do so - in a shock referendum result.
Two months ago, the Prime Minister could have looked forward to Britain having a strong negotiating hand on Day One of Brexit talks; now it is hard to see how her position could be any weaker.
May has clung on to power since the election but has so far failed to strike an agreement with Northern Ireland's ultra-conservative Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) that would allow her to govern.
After days of political turmoil sparked by her botched gamble on a snap election, May's Conservative Party resumed talks with a small Northern Irish Protestant party on securing the support of its 10 members of Parliament to pass legislation.
Adding to what Queen Elizabeth II called the "sombre national mood" have been three terrorist attacks in three months and a fire in a London tower block in which 58 people are presumed dead.
- Softer strategy on Brexit?
As a result, the loss of its parliamentary majority led to some observers suggesting that the Prime Minister may abandon her "hard Brexit" plans.
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, who is newly influential after winning a crucial 13 seats in Scotland, has said Britain should prioritise "freedom to trade and our economic growth".More news: Canada releases new defense policy
Perhaps reflecting frustrations with whether their voices and concerns count in Brussels, a median of 53% across the nine European countries, excluding the United Kingdom, support having their own national referendums on continued EU membership. We keep hearing that they don't want a 'Norway model, ' they don't want a 'Swiss model, ' they want to leave the customs union, the internal market, they want to limit migration.
Threats by Britain to walk away without a deal have also anxious European capitals.
The Chancellor told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show: "What we put in place may not be a single arrangement that endures forever, it may be an arrangement which lasts for a couple of years as a temporary measure before we get to the long-term agreed status quo".
The EU's executive Commission said in a statement Friday that the first round of negotiations in Brussels will be part of a "sequenced approach to the talks". It could also refuse to start negotiations on a future trading relationship before exit terms are agreed.
May wants to negotiate the divorce and the future trading relationship with the European Union before Britain leaves in March 2019, followed by what she calls a phased implementation process to give business time to prepare for the impact of the divorce.
The issue most likely to torpedo negotiations is Britain's bill for leaving the bloc.
"No deal would be a very, very bad outcome for Britain, but there is a possible worse outcome and that is a deal that is deliberately structured to suck the lifeblood out of our economy over a period of time".
He said more time should have been spent "taking apart" Labour's economic plans, the consequences of which he said would be "catastrophic".
VDMA managing director Thilo Brodtmann said in a statement that "the European Union and Great Britain must absolutely avoid being left without an agreement in two years".