Prime Minister Theresa May has said she could withdraw her offer of a massive Brexit ‘divorce bill’ of around £40 billion if the European Union fails to agree on a trade deal with the UK.
Her statement, made to MPs in the House of Commons on Monday, comes after the European Commission and Brexit Secretary David Davis confirmed the agreement so far is not legally binding, with Davis describing it as a “statement of intent.”
The agreement includes a so-called ‘divorce bill’ coving Britain’s alleged financial commitments to the bloc, and promises to keep the Irish border open through “regulatory alignment” with the EU.
Mr. Davis has insisted the UK would only be “seeking” to stick to the deal even if the EU was uncooperative in the second stage of negotiations.
However, Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, has since attacked David Davis for “undermining trust,” demanded the deal is made bindin and “translated into legal text” as soon as possible.
Remarks by David Davis that Phase one deal last week not binding were unhelpful & undermines trust. EP text will now reflect this & insist agreement translated into legal text ASAP #Brexit
— Guy Verhofstadt (@guyverhofstadt) December 12, 2017
Mrs. May’s statement yesterday appeared clear, insisting the Brexit bill could be withdrawn if the EU was unreasonable on matters of trade.
She told MPs: “It is clear in the joint progress report that this offer is on the table in the context of us agreeing the partnership for the future, agreeing the next stage, and agreeing the partnership for the future,” she said.
“If we don’t agree that partnership, then this offer is off the table.”
Mrs. May also claimed the agreement so far had created a new sense of “optimism” and was good news for voters.
She continued: “The arrangements we have agreed to reach the second phase of the talks are entirely consistent with the principles and objectives that I [have] set out.
“This is good news for people who voted Leave, who were worried we were so bogged down in tortuous negotiations it was never going to happen.
“And it is good news for people who voted Remain, who were worried we were going to crash out without a deal.”