Published On: Sun, Aug 6th, 2017

EU must be joking! Tory MPs vow to REJECT plans to use taxpayers' money to pay Brexit bill

The threat of a major rebellion came after Whitehall sources suggested that the Government is prepared to pay Brussels a £36billion exit fee. 

The briefing infuriated senior backbenchers who dismissed the suggestion as “nonsense” but made it clear that any exit payment would not get their support in Parliament. 

The figure is much lower than the cash-strapped EU’s demand of up to £78billion as it faces the prospect of losing its second-biggest financial contributor. 

However, a senior Government source tried to calm the anger by saying the £36billion figure was “wrong”. 

But the source also appeared to confirm that the Government is preparing to offer a divorce fee although the £36billion is “much higher” than the amounts being discussed currently.


Brexit newsGETTY

Tory MPs vow to REJECT plans to use taxpayers’ money to pay Brexit bill


It’s divide and rule to try and get Britain negotiating with herself

John Redwood

A spokeswoman for the Department for Exiting the EU also pointed to previous comments made by Brexit secretary David Davis that Britain “will meet its obligations”. 

The prospect of Britain paying anything to leave the EU was met with a flat rejection by senior Conservative backbenchers who made it clear that Britain owes Brussels nothing. 

Former Cabinet minister John Redwood said that ministers do not have the power on their own to sign off extra billions to Brussels beyond the current Budget period which ends in 2020. 

He said it was “completely ridiculous” to suggest the UK would have to pay to get Brussels to talk about trade because the EU desperately needed a deal. 

He added: “Ministers would be quite wrong to be talking about any figures, we don’t owe them any money. 

“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 on its own side. 

“The EU’s tactic is very clear. It’s divide and rule to try and get Britain negotiating with herself. 

“It would require an Act of Parliament and I certainly wouldn’t vote for it.” 

Conservative MP Peter Bone said: “One of the prime reasons the UK voted to leave the EU was to stop sending them billions of pounds per year, so it would be totally bizarre to give the EU any money, let alone £36billion, given also that over the years that we have been in the EU or its predecessor we have given them, net, over £200billion. 

“So if there was going to be any transfer of money then it should be from the EU to the UK.” 

Richard TiceGETTY

Mr Tice branded the £36billion suggestion as ‘outrageous’

The Wellingborough MP added: “I think it would be very strange of Parliament to pay billions of pounds to leave an organisation that you have given hundreds of billions of pounds to and got nothing in return. 

“That would be a very strange decision, so I don’t think it would happen.” 

Richard Tice, the co-chairman of Leave Means Leave, branded the £36billion suggestion as “outrageous”. 

He said: “This has all come about because of Westminster Remainer whingers damaging our negotiating position and weak civil servants and politicians not planning a credible World Trade Organization position from day one.” 

He branded MPs who insist that Britain will have to pay a fee as “lily livered liberals who understand nothing about negotiating”. 

Jacob Rees-MoggGETTY

Mr Rees-Mogg pointed out that Britain needs a deal much less than Brussels

He added: “Speculation about a divorce bill is particularly unhelpful. 

“The focus should be on accelerating talks with the aim of concluding them at the end of 2017. This would enable businesses to adapt during the 15 months leading to March 2019. 

“If there is no agreement by then, Britain should walk away – no deal is better than a bad deal.” 

Backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg pointed out that Britain needs a deal much less than Brussels, because the EU exports £60billion more to the UK than goes the other way. 

The MP for North East Somerset said: “There is no logic to this figure, legally we owe nothing according to international law.” 


He said there was a case for the UK to continue to pay into programmes which it wanted to remain part of such as the student Erasmus programme and research. 

He added: “This is not going to cost nearly as much as £36billion.” 

He urged the Government to “stiffen its sinews” and warned that ministers have “fallen into a classic EU trap” by discussing the financial settlement before a trade deal and other aspects of the future relationship with the EU. 

He said: “By doing it this way it makes it very hard for us to go back and reduce the bill later.” 

One of the most powerful Brexit groups Leave Means Leave also fired a warning shot to the Government that a Brexit fee was unacceptable. 

Jean Claude JunckerGETTY

The European Commission have warned that they could walk away from talks

Former director general of the British Chambers of Commerce John Longworth has carried out research which reveals that if Britain leaves the EU with no deal it is still better off by around £150billion a year. 

Meanwhile, Fareham MP Suella Fernandes, the chairwoman of the powerful pro-Brexit European Research Group, said: “This reported figure is however pure speculation. There’s no basis for it and we don’t recognise the figure. 

“The Government is focused on getting the best deal for the UK. Any agreement must be fair to the EU and the UK taxpayer. A bad deal is worse than no deal.” 

The £36billion was described as a proposal to break the deadlock with Brussels and be an “act of goodwill” by the UK. 

It would also be linked to a transition period where the UK slowly disentangles itself from the EU. 

It was reported that the Government will only agree to pay the sum if the EU treats it as part of a deal on future relations – including the comprehensive trade agreement sought by the Prime Minister. 

The idea of a £36billion divorce fee has been aired at a time when senior ministers are debating whether it is worth continuing with the talks. 

A senior minister said that there “is a good chance” the Government will walk away from the talks because of the inflexibility Brussels is showing over its demand that the European Court of Justice continues to have jurisdiction in Britain. 

European Commission negotiators have warned that they could walk away from talks if Britain does not accept it has to pay a fee.

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