Sweden is appearing to back the European Union’s (EU) calls for the UK to pay a punitive £50 billion divorce bill, as well as insisting a Brexit deal can not leave Britain better off outside the bloc.
The declarations from Ann Linde, Sweden’s new EU affairs and trade minister, aligns the Nordic nation with France and the European Commission’s Brexit negotiators who all want to see the UK hammered with a harsh deal.
“They have been really tough on the U.K. side,” Mrs. Linde told Bloomberg Politics on Friday. “That’s a position they have chosen, but it doesn’t make it easier to have constructive discussions when the point is to reach an agreement.”
On the huge divorce bill, she added: “There’s no doubt about that.”
Continuing: “They shouldn’t get as good conditions when they’re on the outside as when they’re on the inside. The EU will never accept that they only pay for the goodies, but avoid things where we have a shared responsibility.”
In February, it emerged the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier was plotting to ban talks on a future trade deal and the legal status of expats until the government responds to his demands to pay the huge sum.
Earlier this month, the president of the European Commission said Britain would be treated like a “third country”, and he wanted Brexit to be so bad for the UK it will deter other states from leaving.
“There will be no half-membership or cherry picking. In Europe, the choice is to eat what’s on the table or not come to the table at all,” Jean-Claude Juncker said.
France’s finance minister reaffirmed his country’s support for the hash approach Sunday.
“… There is no question of bartering over specific figures. That is not how it works. [European Commission Brexit negotiator] Michel Barnier has made that quite clear,” Michel Sapin told the Irish Independent .
The British government’s lawyers, however, and a House of Lords committee has said the UK has no legal responsibility to pay the £50 billion bill and the prime minister is opposed to handing over a large amount.
“Let me be clear: No deal is better for Britain than a bad deal,” warned Theresa May in January.