- Hard Brexit supporting Conservative MPs have attacked the government over reports of a £50 billion Brexit divorce bill being agreed.
- Theresa May under pressure to deliver on trade in Brexit negotiations.
- Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg says Britain appears to be “dancing to the tune” of the EU.
LONDON – Theresa May is under pressure after hardline Conservative Brexiteer MPs said they would be prepared to vote against the final Brexit deal over reports of a £50 billion divorce bill are true.
A group of Conservative MPs say they will be prepared to rebel if the UK continues to pay the £50 billion divorce bill after the UK leaves the European Union or if it does not mean talks move onto trade.
They believe leaving in a no-deal scenario would be better for Britain, and think the the planned financial settlement is too high a price to pay for a good deal with the EU after Brexit.
Tory backbench MP and Brexiteer Peter Bone told the Guardian: “I think people in the country will be very, very upset. I don’t think paying billions to the EU is what the people voted for.
“Giving billions to the EU is completely the reverse of what people voted for. If the deal is voted down we come out on World Trade Organisation rules. I don’t think that is a problem at all. Then all that money – £60bn lying around – we could use that to help the NHS and other things and even do tax cuts.”
The prime minister was supported by pro-Brexit cabinet ministers including Boris Johnson and Michael Gove when making the decision on the financial settlement, but they also demand movement from the EU on trade.
The foreign secretary said on Wednesday: “Now’s the time to get the ship off the rocks,” pointing both towards his support for May, as well as making an unfortunate comparison between his government’s position on Brexit and a shipwreck.
However, one Tory MP said that the hard Brexit supporting European Research Group of Conservatives were seeking a meeting with the chief whip Julian Smith to discuss their concerns about the divorce bill.
Pro-Brexit Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said it was “of course” a possibility that Brexiteers could rebel against the final deal in Parliament if it was not satisfactory.
He said: “I think it’s fair to say colleagues on the Conservative benches would rather have a clean break than staged payments. But we don’t know. If we said we’d pay you all in one sum and a bit less, they wouldn’t take it? We need to see the whole deal in the round, and the ultimate sanction is no deal is better than a bad deal.”
High-profile Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg added that Britain was “dancing to the tune” of the EU and asked for assurances that no payments would be made if there was not a final trade agreement.
Former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith made it clear that support for the financial settlement was dependent on successful and positive trade negotiations with the EU.
He told the BBC: “It is also absolutely hinged on a free trade arrangement. If there is no trade deal, then my view – and I would think the whole of the party’s view – would be we don’t owe them any money at all.
“Because if we don’t have that arrangement,then that whole figure that is being bandied around becomes null and void.”
Downing Street has not officially confirmed the reported figure, and suggested this week that reports by the BBC and others that May had agreed a figure of around £50bn were “misleading”.
A spokesperson for the BBC told Business Insider that they “are confident in the sourcing of our journalism.”
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