Theresa May rules out delaying Brexit after negotiations hit deadlock over divorce bill

  • Theresa May rules out any extension to Article 50 — the two-year process from which Britain will leave the EU.
  • Brexit talks have stalled after EU warned that Britain has made no “decisive progress” on the size of its divorce bill.
  • However, Downing Street rules out discussing any bill until talks move onto the next stage.
  • Little sign of movement on either side as clock ticks towards Brexit.

LONDON — Theresa May has ruled out delaying Britain’s exit from the EU as negotiations continue to stall over the size of the Brexit divorce bill.

Brexit negotiations were scheduled to move onto discussions of Britain’s future relationship with the EU next month.

However, under the EU’s timetable, Britain must first make “significant progress” on agreeing our financial obligations to the EU, before the discussions can move onto this next phase.

The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, said last week that there had been “no decisive progress,” suggesting that talks are likely to be delayed beyond October.

This has led to calls for an extended transition, or even an extension to Britain’s membership while talks continue.

Under Article 50, the process by which Britain will leave the EU, exit can be delayed or revoked if there is unanimous agreement from EU member states.

However, a spokesperson for the prime minister today ruled out any delay to Brexit.

“The deadline is there and right and we don’t recognise at all this idea that we will extend it,” the spokesperson said.

“We will be leaving the European Union in March 2019.”

Asked if they would explicitly rule out any delay to Brexit, they replied “yes”.

They confirmed reports that Britain wishes to “intensify” Brexit talks, with negotiators meeting more regularly over the coming weeks.

“[We are] ready to intensify negotiations,” they said, adding: “Typically [with] negotiations, as time goes on you see the pace pick up.”

Downing Street rules out discussing divorce bill

Downing Street also pushed back against reports that May has privately agreed to settle an up to £50 billion divorce bill, saying they were not even willing to discuss the bill until negotiations moved onto the next phase.

“We’re talking about withdrawal now and not [our] future relationship,” the spokesperson said.

“Or position is that we want to get onto talking about that which would include discussions on figures. We’re not there yet, we would like to be and as David Davis has said repeatedly we believe the two things are inextricably linked. As soon as we can start talking about both then we will start discussing figures.”

Asked if they would rule out any discussion of figures until Brexit negotiations move onto the next phase, the spokesperson told Business Insider:

“Currently we’re talking about withdrawal. We want to talk about withdrawal and future partnership so we’re not at the stage of the negotiations where we are talking about the figure.

“We’re not at that stage. It’s premature to answer that question.”

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