Downing Street denies Brexit divorce bill of €40bn — “This thing has started very badly” — The UK side had been “a bit absent”

Source dismisses report as inaccurate speculation and says such a high bill would be unacceptable to government and public

 No automatic alt text available.
  Hardline Brexit supporters including Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nigel Farage said the reported figure was ridiculous. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA

Downing Street has dismissed the idea of paying a Brexit divorce bill of up to €40bn (£36bn), as leading supporters of leaving the EU said they would not accept handing over such a large sum.

Theresa May was reported to be willing to pay that amount as the price for getting on with trade talks and an exit deal.

The sum would be a compromise, because Brussels has demanded about €60bn. The €40bn figure would still be the equivalent of several years of contributions to the EU budget, which would continue to be paid after Britain leaves the EU in March 2019.

A Downing Street source, however, said the figure, which was mentioned by Brussels sources quoted in the Sunday Telegraph, was “inaccurate speculation”, playing down the idea that such a high bill would be acceptable to the government or Brexit voters.

The issue of payments to the EU is a huge political problem for No 10, partly because the Brexit campaign mentioned recouping £350m a week from Brussels to put towards the NHS.

At the same time, the EU will not progress to the next stage of talks on the future relationship until it deems that “sufficient progress” has been made on the financial settlement.

Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, told diplomats last month that the next step may be pushed back to December because Britain is stalling on the bill.

May and David Davis, the Brexit secretary, have accepted that an amount will have to be paid, saying they need “to determine a fair settlement of the UK’s rights and obligations”.

But some Brexit supporters take a much harder line against payments to the EU. Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, told the House of Commons last month that Brussels could “go whistle”.

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BBC News

Brexit negotiations ‘have not begun well’ – Sir Simon Fraser

EU and British flag outside Parliament

The UK’s Brexit negotiations have not begun well amid “differences” inside the cabinet, a former head of the diplomatic service has said. Reuters photo

Sir Simon Fraser, chief mandarin at the Foreign Office until 2015, said the UK side had been “a bit absent” from formal negotiations in Brussels.

Sir Simon, who now advises businesses on Brexit, said he was concerned the UK had not put forward a clear position.

The government is expected to publish “position papers” on key issues soon.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour, Sir Simon said he feared divisions within the cabinet were preventing the government from presenting a united front.

“The negotiations have only just begun, I don’t think they have begun particularly promisingly, frankly, on the British side,” he said.

“We haven’t put forward a lot because, as we know, there are differences within the cabinet about the sort of Brexit that we are heading for and until those differences are further resolved I think it’s very difficult for us to have a clear position.”

“I think so far we haven’t put much on the table apart from something on the status of nationals, so we are a bit absent from the formal negotiation,” he added.

Border control at Heathrow Airport
Image copyright PA

He called on the government to publish further details about its views on issues, including future customs arrangements and the Northern Irish border in the coming weeks.

“I think we need to demonstrate that we are ready to engage on the substance so that people can understand what is really at stake here and what the options are.”

‘Flexible negotiations’

Last month, Brexit Secretary David Davis said he was confident negotiations would continue as planned after reports Brussels may delay trade talks because of a lack of progress on the “divorce” settlement.

At the weekend, the Sunday Telegraph claimed UK negotiators are now prepared to pay up to £36bn to the EU to settle the so-called Brexit divorce bill.

A senior Government source told the Press Association agency that “no such figure has been agreed”.

A spokesman for the Department for Exiting the EU last month said negotiators had already made “good progress on a number of issues”.

“It is important that both sides demonstrate a dynamic and flexible approach to these negotiations.

“Government officials are working at pace and we are confident we will have made sufficient progress by October to advance the talks to the next phase.”


Brexit negotiators trying to ‘ram through’ £36bn Brexit divorce bill while Eurosceptics are on holiday

Time to talk trade: British negotiators say the current structure of the Brexit talks is not working
06 Aug 2017, 9:30pm

Brexit negotiators have been accused of trying to “ram through” a £36bn divorce bill while most of the Cabinet is on holiday amid a furious backlash from ministers and senior eurosceptic Conservatives.

The Sunday Telegraph yesterday disclosed that senior Whitehall officials have concluded that the offer is the only way to break the deadlock in negotiations and push ahead with discussions on a future trade deal.

The  scale of the divorce bill has infuriated eurosceptic Cabinet ministers and Tory MPs, many of whom believe that Britain is under no legal obligation to pay anything it leaves the EU and should in fact get some money back.

Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, told MPs three weeks ago that European leaders can “go whistle” if they expect Britain to pay an “exorbitant” divorce bill for leaving the EU.

It comes as Theresa May and senior eurosceptic Cabinet ministers including Mr Johnson…

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2 Responses to “Downing Street denies Brexit divorce bill of €40bn — “This thing has started very badly” — The UK side had been “a bit absent””

  1. Brittius Says:

    Reblogged this on Brittius and commented:
    The UK should keep every bit of that “owed” bill, as it is a fabrication of the EU, and the UK should smack the EU in the face with the monetary figure that the UK has paid, NATO, while the EU members never paid anything.

  2. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World4Justice : NOW! Lobby Forum..

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