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UK claims 'momentum' in Brexit talks despite doubts from EU

Brussels: Brexit talks are progressing with "momentum", the British minister in charge of negotiating the divorce said Friday after meeting his EU counterpart, despite warnings from Europe that a deal is still some way off.

After talks in Brussels with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier, Brexit Minister Stephen Barclay said there was a "shared sense of purpose" to reach agreement and avoid Britain crashing out of the bloc without a divorce deal.

Britain is racing toward its October 31 departure without an exit agreement and faces the threat of economic disruption that the government admits could cause food shortages and spark civil unrest.

Barclay and Barnier discussed three papers submitted by London with ideas on replacing the so-called "Irish backstop" provisions

in the Brexit deal struck last year but rejected by British lawmakers.

"There is significant work still to do but there are serious discussions that are taking place," Barclay said after the talks.

"We are moving forward with momentum, talks will continue next week between the technical teams."

But the European Commission, which leads Brexit talks for the remaining 27 member states, gave a more sober assessment, stressing that the British papers amounted to no more than "a first set of concepts, principles and ideas".

And there was further pessimism from Dublin, with Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney telling BBC radio that while the "mood music" around talks had improved, a deal was still "not close" and British proposals so far were inadequate.

"What we are being asked to do by Steve Barclay and by others is to replace a guarantee around that border question... with a promise that somehow we'll do our best to try to solve this issue in the future but we don't know how just yet," he said.

"That doesn't sound like a fair deal to me."

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