The president of the European Parliament has said Theresa May’s €20 billion Brexit ‘divorce bill’ offer is “peanuts”, demanding tens of billions more.
Antonio Tajani also accused the British government of not being realistic in Brexit negotiations, during an interview on the BBC’s Newsnight.
“I’m not against the UK. But please, help us to help you,” he said. “Twenty billion is peanuts. It’s peanuts, 20 billions. The problem is 50, 60, this is the real situation.”
He said: “We need our money back, as Mrs. Thatcher said 30 years, 40 years ago.”
During her speech in Florence last month, Theresa May made it clear she supports a “transition period” after the UK leaves the EU in 2019, and said the UK will pay a ‘divorce bill’, reported to be around €20 billion.
Michael Barnier, the European Commission’s chief negotiator, has been saying he will block talks on a trade deal since February, and it is reported he wants as much as €100 billion from the UK.
He insists the UK covers supposed budget liabilities, including the pensions of eurocrats, that EU courts remain supreme in the UK, and has insisted the EU will not budge “one iota” from their Brexit mandate.
Asked whether the UK and EU could strike a trade deal by this time next year, Mr. Tajani blamed the UK for the slow progress and warned that “without agreement, with delay every day, a lot of European companies will leave the UK, and also the Americans.”
He said: “We want to know what the UK wants to do. This is the problem — it’s not very clear… We are united. Where is the unity in the UK? There are many different positions.
“We have only one position; only one negotiator… In the Conservative Party, there are many different positions.
“This is not good for good work in the next months. Please, we need a decision on this — which is the line to take? For us, it is important to know.”
On Tuesday, Brexit secretary David Davis admitted talks have reached a stalemate with no further progress possible unless Brussels backs trade talks.
The government was “reaching the limits of what we can achieve without consideration of the future relationship”, he told MPs.
Adding: “Our aim remains to provide as much certainty to business and citizens on both sides. To fully provide that certainty, we must be able to talk about the future.”
Last week, the government revealed how they are preparing to walk away from the EU without a trade deal by publishing draft legislation on how the UK will implement independent trade and customs arrangements from “day one” of Brexit in 2019.
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