Controversy over Brexit divorce bill

EPA/STEPHANIE LECOCQ

The United Kingdom's Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, David Davis (L), and Michel Barnier (R), the European Chief Negotiator of the Task Force for the Preparation and Conduct of the Negotiations with the United Kingdom under Article 50, speak at a joint news conference at the end of the second roundof 'Brexit' talks at the EU Commission, in Brussels, Belgium, 20 July 2017.

Controversy over Brexit divorce bill


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Downing Street sources have denied reports that Britain will agree to pay a Brexit divorce bill of up to €40bn.

The Sunday Telegraph had reported on August 5 that British Prime Minister Theresa May was willing to pay that amount as the price for getting on with trade talks and an exit deal.

According to the report, the €40bn would be a compromise because Brussels has demanded about €60bn.

As reported by The Guardian, however, a Downing Street source told The Guardian that the figure was “inaccurate speculation”, playing down the idea that such a high bill would be acceptable to the government or Brexit voters.

Even though May and David Davis, the Brexit secretary, have accepted that an amount will have to be paid, some Brexit supporters disagree.

For instance, Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, told the House of Commons last month that Brussels could “go whistle”.

The Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg said there was “no logic to this figure. Legally we owe nothing”. His colleague Peter Bone said it would be “very strange” for parliament to vote in favour of such large sums.

In a separate report Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, noted that the EU wants agreement by October on the rights of EU citizens in Britain and border controls between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland before trade and other issues are discussed.

If Britain cannot conclude an exit deal, trade relations would be governed by World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, which would allow both parties to impose tariffs and customs checks and leave many other issues unsettled.

According to the Dutch daily De Volkskrant, the EU will only give access to the Single Market if the UK accepts the four freedoms: of movement, capital, goods and services.

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