Brexit: Tusk and May in 'friendly' meeting

"What you could have done is acknowledge that we have put net over 200 billion sterling into this project, we're actually shareholders. and you should be making us an offer we can't refuse - to go", he said, while calling the EU's divorce demands "vindictive and nasty".

Both leaders agreed that the tone of discussions had been positive on both sides, and agreed that they would seek to remain in close touch as the negotiations progressed.

Mr Barnier - who had earlier been chastised by Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson for "twiddling" on his phone as Mr Nicholson spoke - also said that Britain must stop pressing for immediate parallel talks with the European Union on a post-Brexit free trade deal.

The United Kingdom's negotiators would not have chosen to start two years of Brexit talks amid Conservative threats of war with Spain over Gibraltar.

The thrust is that the UK's future relationship with the European Union will only be discussed after "substantial progress" is made on key issues.

"The sooner we agree on the principles of an orderly withdrawal, the sooner we can prepare our future relation in trade, a free and fair trade agreement, but also in security and defense", Mr. Barnier said.

At a meeting in Downing Street, the prime minister insisted there could be no change to the status of the territory without the consent of its people.

Theresa May and Donald Tusk have agreed to try and "lower tensions" over Gibraltar in Brexit talks following the recent furore over the issue.

Antonio Tajani, the president of the European Parliament, said the remarks were "unacceptable" while the leader of the largest MEP grouping said Mr Farage should not speak on behalf of the EFDD on matters related to Brexit. The European Parliament on Wednesday backed the bloc's chief negotiator in demanding Britain pay as much as 60 billion euros ($64 billion) for outstanding commitments.

"He gave the floor to non-Brits to express the position of his group and I hope that Mr Farage shows the same sense of respect and honour and, perhaps, allows his Italian colleagues to speak on behalf of their group", Mr Weber said.

The Prime Minister said there would be an "implementation" phase once a deal had been hammered out, with business and governments needing a "period of time" to adjust to the new rules.

On the disputed divorce bill, which EU officials expect to reach EUR60 billion ($64 billion), European politicians said it should cover not just all commitments made by the United Kingdom during its time as an EU member, but also so-called off-balance sheet items.

  • Joanne Flowers