Theresa May privately agrees to pay up to €40 billion Brexit divorce bill

Theresa MayDan Kitwood / GettyTheresa May and her negotiating team arrive in Brussels.
  • Theresa May privately assures EU leaders that Britain will pay for current and future liabilities amounting to around €40 billion.
  • The UK has not formally made this offer in negotiations.
  • As a result, the EU council is expected to announce today that Brexit trade talks will be delayed until the end of the year.
  • May is under pressure from Conservative MPs to walk out of talks.

LONDON — Theresa May has privately agreed to double Britain’s Brexit divorce bill in an attempt to progress talks that have stalled over Britain’s financial contribution to the EU.

May has already agreed to pay Britain’s full contributions to the current budget round, amounting to some €20 billion.

However, this figure was dismissed this week by the president of the EU Parliament Antonio Tajani, as “peanuts” with Germany and other countries refusing to allow talks on a future trade deal to start until Britain signals it will agree to pay at least double this amount.

Although the UK has made no official commitment to pay the extra money, the prime minister has reportedly privately assured EU leaders that Britain will ultimately agree to pay up once talks progress onto trade.

According to The Times May told a select group of EU leaders that she is prepared to pay an additional sum of around €20 billion in order to cover commitments which will stretch into future budget rounds.

EU leaders have been frustrated that May has so far refused to officially table this offer. As a result, the EU Council is expected to announce later today that it is not willing to move on to the next phase of Brexit talks, on trade and Britain’s future relationship with the EU.

The Prime Minister has reportedly urged her EU partners to understand the political difficulty she would face in publicly accepting a larger figure, before talks on trade have even begun.

May is under pressure from Conservative MPs to threaten to walk out of talks and leave the EU without any deal at all.

Brexit Secretary David Davis will next week set out the government’s plans for such a scenario to Cabinet.

The prime minister will this morning meet with EU Council president Donald Tusk, before attending a breakfast session with the council. After May leaves, the council will then discuss whether the next phase of Brexit talks should be delayed until the end of the year.

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