Brexit negotiations at 'disturbing deadlock' over UK's divorce bill

Brexit negotiations are at a "disturbing deadlock" over the question of the UK's exit bill, with the latest round of talks failing to make any "massive steps forward", the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier has said.

Following the fifth round of negotiations, Mr Barnier said he will not recommend to next week's European Council summit that talks should start on the post-Brexit UK/EU trade relationship.

The British Government had hoped to persuade the remaining 27 EU leaders at the October 19 summit that sufficient progress had been made on the divorce deal to move on to discussions on the future relationship.

But Mr Barnier told a press conference in Brussels at the conclusion of the four-day talks: "I am not able in the current circumstances to propose next week to the European Council that we should start discussions on the future relationship."

He added that the talks had "clarified" some issues but more needs to be done.

Brexit Secretary David Davis said while there was still much work to be done, the talks had made "significant progress" since June.

However, Mr Barnier said there was "deadlock" on the issue of the scale of Britain's financial settlement and that there had been no negotiations on the issue this week.

Theresa May's announcement in her Florence speech that Britain would honour commitments entered into as an EU member was "important", he said, but he added: "This week, however, the UK repeated that it was still not ready to spell out these commitments.

"On this question we have reached a state of deadlock which is very disturbing for thousands of project promoters in Europe and it's disturbing also for taxpayers."

Mr Barnier said he still held out the hope for progress by the time of the December summit of the European Council.

Mr Davis said the Government had undertaken a "rigorous examination" of the technical details needed to reach a financial settlement.

"This is not a process for agreeing specific commitments," he said. "We have been clear that can only come later but it is an important step so that when the time comes we will be able to reach a political agreement quickly and simply."

On the issue of citizens' rights, Mr Davis said they were confident there would be agreement soon on incorporating the final withdrawal treaty into UK law, ensuring EU nationals in the UK would be able to enforce their rights through the UK courts.

EU citizens would still have to register with the UK authorities but the process would be streamlined to make it as simple as possible.

Michel Barnier said Theresa May's Florence speech helped gives talks momentum. Credit: AP

Those already in possession of a permanent residence card would be able to exchange it for "settled status" without having to go through the full application process again, he added.

Mr Barnier said the interpretation of rights must be "genuinely consistent" between the UK and the EU after Britain quits and suggested they must be applied through the European Court of Justice.

Mr Barnier said negotiations on the status of the Irish border had "advanced" during this week's discussions but there was "more work to do in order to build a full picture of the challenges to North-South co-operation resulting from the UK - and therefore Northern Ireland - leaving the EU legal framework".

The start of the press conference was briefly delayed by the presence of British pro-remain campaigner Madeleina Kay, who sat in the front row dressed as Superwoman.

After being surrounded by members of the press she was escorted out by security.

Pro-remain campaigner Madeleina Kay was escorted from the room by security. Credit: PA