The Prime Minister has denied reports the UK is willing to pay a £36 billion (€40 billion) ‘divorce bill’ to the European Union (EU) after Tory MPs insisted the proposal would never be voted through parliament.
The EU has previously demanded between €60 billion to €100 billion from the UK, threatening that talks on the UK’s future trade relationship with the bloc and citizen’s rights couldn’t begin until it was settled.
Despite the UK having no legal obligation to pay the sum, and ministers insisting the UK would not pay it, over the weekend Whitehall sources said the UK had shifted stance and was prepared to meet the EU half way.
Now, Downing Street has denied the claims, insisting £36 billion is far above what Theresa May is willing to consider or was being discussed, The Times reports.
EVEN BETTER we could just not pay a cent and let them go whistle https://t.co/uV9JyloDRb
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) August 6, 2017
“There is no logic to this figure, legally we owe nothing”, tweeted Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leading Brexiteer MP and second favourite to replace Mrs May as Prime Minister, following the claims the UK would pay the sum.
In March, the House of Lords EU financial affairs sub-committee backed this claim, publishing a report explaining why the UK has no legal obligation to pay the EU’s demanded bill.
Despite this, Chancellor Phillip Hammond – who has pushed for a so-called ‘soft-Brexit’ and ‘transition period’ after the split – is rumoured to have supported the increased offer, and the Prime Minister’s rejection of is likely to increases Brexit divisions within the cabinet.
it's almost as if Hammond doesn't want Britain to leave the EU at all https://t.co/sSFDtWFMtS
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) July 18, 2017
“This is neat from Hammond’s point of view,” one of the Chancellor’s colleges said. “If you tie it to transition it starts to look less like a bill and more like a price worth paying for a smooth path to a Brexit end state everyone says they want.”
John Redwood, the former cabinet minister, said it was “completely ridiculous” to suggest that the UK would have to pay to get Brussels to talk about trade because the EU “desperately” needed a deal.
He told LBC, the radio station: “It would be silly to be offering something when the EU is still not very willing to talk and is not coming up with anything constructive. The EU’s tactic is very clear. It’s divide and rule to try and get Britain negotiating with herself.”