Despite the prime minister reportedly doubling her Brexit ‘divorce bill’ offer Monday, European Union (EU) diplomats have already indicated they are still not satisfied and could demand more cash for talks to progress.
Although the government is yet to confirm reports, it is widely understood the British government has agreed to raise its offer from the £20 billion promised in Theresa May’s Florence speech to close to £40 billion.
It is understood the new higher offer was discussed and agreed by members of Mrs. May’s cabinet Monday, including ministers who have previously opposed a large payout. Brussels has said it is waiting for a concrete offer.
However, responding to reports of a higher offer, one EU diplomat told Politico: “This £36 billion could make sense only if it’s a first step with an openness to discuss further financial commitments.
“It could be enough to say, okay, we are ready to move to phase two, but only if it’s not the final figure. For some countries, it could be enough but I don’t see France or Italy agreeing.”
Another source said some progress could be made, but remained cautious. He told the website: “Everyone is so desperate to move to the second stage that if this is not their final say, yes, it could be enough.”
But, he warned the collapse of German coalition talks meant the “process is going to be increasingly driven by Paris” which is seen as having a more hard-line approach to Brexit than Berlin.
Merkel Signals Preference for Fresh Elections over Running Minority Government https://t.co/uVNqcGp3Hk
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This morning, senior Brexit-supporting Tories were quoted in papers urging Mrs. May to take advantage of Angela Merkel’s trouble forming a government and associated weakness to push for a smaller bill.
Responding to the comments, however, Christian Schmidt, the German food and agriculture minister, warned the UK not to play such a “game”.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “My suggestion is just to think which kind of disaster this would be for the United Kingdom’s economy.
“This is not a game, winner and loser. This is a responsibility. We see it in the 27 European member states. I think we see that there is a lot of responsibility also to the UK.”