Sterling slides as Brexit talks hit a 'deadlock'

Theresa May

European Union chief negotiator Michel Barnier said earlier Thursday after a fifth round of talks with British negotiator David Davis that there was a "disturbing" deadlock on the exit bill the European Union says Britain must pay.

The pound had earlier tumbled after the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier told reporters that talks around Britain's divorce payment had become deadlocked, hitting as low as $1.3122.

He told a closing news conference in Brussels that the talks had "clarified" some issues, but more needed to be done.

Both sides have now given up on the United Kingdom making "sufficient progress" to move to trade talks by the European Council summit in October, with Mr Barnier suggesting the milestone could be reached by December with constructive effort on both sides.

Handelsblatt, citing EU diplomats, said Britain would also have to meet all the obligations of EU membership during the transition and Barnier was expected to make the proposal during a meeting of EU ambassadors on Friday.

However, that commitment has not yet been spelled out by United Kingdom negotiators.

They will "reassess the state of progress" at their next summit in December, and if the verdict is positive they will issue their guidelines for trade talks plus a transitional period suggested by British Prime Minister Theresa May, the draft says. Mr Barnier was pressed to say in public whether he would ask European Union leaders' permission to make some preliminary exploration of what a transition after March 2019 would look like.

While that is unlikely to happen, Barnier has been pushing member states for making a gesture towards the United Kingdom by pledging to "scope" the positions on transition within the EU-27.

"There is a new momentum and I remain convinced today, with the political will, decisive progress is within our grasp within the next two months", he said.

"But today I can confirm that we want to reassure those European citizens living in the United Kingdom that their rights and status will be enshrined in UK law by the Withdrawal Agreement", Davis added.

"Over the next few weeks I will explore the way forward, if there is the necessary will, ways of getting out of this deadlock we found ourselves in on the financial issues with the view of making sufficient progress by the next European Council", he said.

On the latter issue differences still remain over the European Court of Justice's role in guaranteeing those rights, family unifications and the exporting of United Kingdom benefits.

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