THE SNP’s Europe spokesperson has slammed the UK Government’s “utterly unprepared” position on key issues following the second round of Brexit talks in Brussels.

London and Brussels remain far apart after the talks with “fundamental” disagreements on the so-called divorce bill, and the rights of EU citizens in the UK, and UK citizens in the EU.

Europe spokesperson Stephen 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 impact us all, such as the rights of EU nationals and the UK’s financial obligations – which the Tories have repeatedly failed to offer clarity on.”

Gethins also called for Brexit Secretary David Davis to allow the devolved governments a seat at the negotiating table, if only because the UK “needs all the help it can get”.

Gethins added: “We are well over a year since the EU referendum and Michel Barnier’s comments that the UK Government still needs to clarify its financial position before negotiations can start reveals that after all this time the Conservatives have still made no progress.

“That is one reason why it is so crucial that devolved administrations are guaranteed a seat the negotiating table and their futures not left to the whims of a Tory Government.

The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier demanded clarification on Britain’s position on the financial settlement, effectively what the UK thinks it should pay, by the next round of talks in August. UK officials, however, say they’re still waiting for more information on what Europe thinks the bill should include.

A senior EU official complained: “We cannot have a serious discussion on the financial settlement as long as we do not have a clarification on where the UK stands.”

By contrast, this official said British negotiators “had a long set of questions, and we were able to answer each one of them.”

Another senior EU diplomat raised the possibility that two more rounds of negotiations might need to be added to the monthly sessions scheduled in August, September and October to prevent the talks from collapsing.

Much to the UK’s surprise, Brussels have said British citizens living in the EU will lose their right to freedom of movement after Brexit.

Another shock for Davis was the news that Europe would limit the scope of the European Health Insurance Card system for British holidaymakers after Brexit.

Brussels also blocked plans by the UK to carry out criminal record checks on EU nationals who apply for settled status after Brexit.

The biggest disagreement, however, remains the European Court of Justice. The EU insists its citizens must be able to go to the ECJ to resolve any dispute over immigration rights.

The UK Government say they cannot allow EU nationals the right to take them to what will effectively be a foreign court.

Barnier insisted this was “not a political point” but a legal one. Anything less, he added, would be a reduction in the rights EU citizens already have.

“In the withdrawal agreement itself, citizens must be able to find the legal certainty that they need in their day-to-day lives,” Barnier said.

He added: “Simply, if there is to be continuity of EU law, that has to be framed by case law of the court. Only the court can interpret EU law. It’s not a choice, it’s an obligation.”

On the Brexit bill he said: “What we want, and we are working on this, is an orderly withdrawal for the United Kingdom, that’s decided. An orderly withdrawal means accounts must be settled. We know that agreement will not be achieved through incremental steps. As soon as the UK is ready to clarify the nature of its commitments, we will be prepared to discuss this with the British negotiators.”

Davis said: “We both recognise the importance of sorting out the obligations we have to one another, both legally and in a spirit of mutual co-operation.”

In a sign of the difficulties in reaching agreement he added: “We have had robust but constructive talks this week.

“Clearly there’s a lot left to talk about and further work before we can resolve this. Ultimately getting to a solution will require flexibility from both sides.”

Labour’s Keir Starmer said: “The lack of progress in these negotiations is deeply concerning and does not bode well for the future.”