BRITAIN’s Brexit negotiators have been accused of being “utterly 
unprepared” as their European 
counterparts suggested they simply did not understand UK positions.
After four days of Brussels talks on leaving the EU, Tory Brexit Secretary David Davis came under intense pressure from the SNP to “get a grip”, while newly elected Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable slated the Government as “dysfunctional, disorganised and disunited”.
Senior Conservatives are understood to be squabbling over their stances on issues such as citizens’ rights and Britain’s divorce bill in early negotiations, which are supposed to pave the way for an even more crucial autumn showdown on post-Brexit trade.
The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, in carefully coded remarks, urged the British to come back to the next round of talks with clearer lines.
Mr Barnier said: “A clarification of the UK position is indispensable for us to negotiate and for us to make sufficient progress on this financial dossier, which is inseparable from the other withdrawal dossiers.”
He added: “We require this clarification on the financial settlement, on citizens’ rights, on Ireland – with the two key points of the common travel area and the Good Friday Agreement – and the other separation issues where this week’s experience has quite simply shown we make better progress where our respective positions are clear.”
Mr Barnier’s team expects the UK to meet current obligations on 
funding and come to a clear understanding on the rights of both UK nationals in the EU and EU nationals in the UK. 
It also wants an early resolution to Northern Ireland’s position after Brexit.
EU negotiators have said they will only move on the big ticket talks on trade if “sufficient progress” is made on these red-line issues. 
However,  Brussels insiders have repeatedly claimed that they find it hard to negotiate with Britain because they simply do not know what their UK counterparts want in both the early talks and big trade issues. SNP Europe spokesman Stephen Gethins MP latched on to Mr Barnier’s remarks as public proof of such private frustration.
Mr Gethins said: “Today’s talks in Brussels have once again shone the light on how utterly unprepared the UK Government is on key issues that will have an impact on us all, such as the rights of EU nationals and the UK’s financial obligations – both of which the Tories have repeatedly failed to offer clarity on.”
He added: “The only clarity and agreement reached across the board offered by David Davis today was that the ‘clock is ticking’ – indeed it is.
“That is why the UK Government must immediately get a grip, end the bluster in Westminster and replace it with constructive negotiations in Brussels by listening to everyone affected by these talks domestically.”
Failure to agree on citizens’ rights, Northern Ireland and the divorce bill could delay long-term talks, raising the prospect of what Brexit watchers call “the cliff”, a “no deal” outcome leaving the UK adrift of European trade and its exports subject to tariffs. 
Sticking points in early negotiations include how citizens’ rights, such as the status of the families of UK expats in Spain, will be protected after Brexit. Mr Barnier wants the European Court of Justice  (ECJ) to act as arbiter. After years of demonising what they call “unelected European judges”, Mr Davis and the Conservatives do not appear ready to accept that.  Mr Barnier referred to.