Deadlock over divorce bill means trade talks cannot start, says EU’s chief negotiator

The EU’s chief negotiator has said talks with the UK are in “deadlock” and cannot move onto Britain’s future trading relationship with the bloc.

Michel Barnier said there was “new momentum” in the talks but that there had been no progress over the UK’s divorce bill, which he described as “disturbing”.

Brexit secretary David Davis said he still hoped that EU leaders would give the OK for trade talks to start when they convene next week.

Barnier and Davis were speaking at a press conference after the fifth found of negotiations in Brussels.

Barnier said: “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.”

Keir Starmer, Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary, has written to Davis calling on him urgently to request an additional emergency round of talks to try and reach an agreement before next week’s crucial meeting of EU leaders.

He said: “Today’s press conference confirms that the government has failed to meet the target for this round of negotiations.

“Ministers have wasted months of the Brexit talks fighting amongst themselves. This increases the chances that Britain will crash out of the EU without a deal. That would be catastrophic for jobs and living standards and must be rejected as a viable option.

“That is why I have written to David Davis calling on the government urgently to request an additional emergency round of talks with EU negotiators in the coming days to try and reach an agreement before next week’s EU Council meeting.

“The government must recognise the gravity of the situation. They must drop their ideological red lines and work round the clock to find a resolution to the current situation.”

Brexit briefing: Weekly news roundup

16 February 2018

Unite Brexit Check’s weekly news briefing on the UK’s exit from the EU. Check back every Friday for an overview of the week’s Brexit-related political, industrial...