Theresa May ‘to offer bigger Brexit payout in return for fast-track trade talks’
21 November 2017
Theresa May looks set to offer the EU a bigger "divorce deal" payment in return for trade and transition talks after a top-level Cabinet gathering gave the Prime Minister the go-ahead.
The two-hour meeting of the key Cabinet Exit and Trade (Strategy and Negotiations) sub-committee followed reports Britain was preparing to double its exit offer to £38 billion in order to get the EU to agree to open crucial trade discussions in December.
After the Cabinet talks, a Downing Street source said: "It remains our position that nothing's agreed until everything's agreed in negotiations with the EU. As the Prime Minister said this morning, the UK and the EU should step forward together."
It is understood Mrs May has been given Cabinet support to offer the EU a larger exit payment when she meets European Council president Donald Tusk in Brussels on Friday.
However, it is believed the extra funding would only be on the table in exchange for fast-tracked talks on post-Brexit trade arrangements, and the framework for a two-year transitional deal after formal withdrawal in March 2019.
The role of the European Court of Justice in dispute resolutions during a transition period was also discussed at the Cabinet sub-committee meeting.
Mr Tusk has set a deadline of the start of next month for Britain to make further movement on the divorce bill and the Irish border issue in order for the EU heads of government summit on December 14-15 to allow talks on a future trade relationship to begin.
Number 10 has previously dismissed as “speculation” reports claiming Mrs May could be prepared to offer a further £20 billion in payments, which would bring the total sum Britain is prepared to pay to settle its liabilities to around £38 billion – well short of the 60 billion euro (£53 billion) sought by Brussels.
Ahead of the Downing Street gathering, Mrs May insisted the UK “will honour” its commitments with the EU.
The PM said the Government position had been made “very clear” in her speech in Florence in September, adding no other member of the European Union would have to pick up the UK’s tab for the current budget cycle.
Mrs May said: “I set out in my Florence speech that we will honour our commitments.
“I was very clear about that, as I said – for the current budget plan – no other European Union country needs fear that they will have to receive less or pay in more.
“We’ve been very clear that we will honour our commitments.”