Britain to pay £40bn Brexit bill even if EU trade talks fail, says Philip Hammond
Britain must pay an exit bill of about £40 billion even if it does not get a trade deal with the EU, Philip Hammond said yesterday.
The chancellor angered Eurosceptics by telling the Treasury select committee that Britain should honour its obligations regardless of the progress of Brexit negotiations. The payments are likely to be spread over 40 years. He told MPs: “I find it inconceivable that we as a nation would be walking away from an obligation that we recognised as an obligation. That is not a credible scenario. That is not the kind of country we are. Frankly, it would not make us a credible partner for future international agreements.”
No 10 responded that “nothing was agreed until everything was agreed” and that negotiations with the EU were taking place “in the context of building a future relationship” with the remaining 27 member states.
Brexiteers are only happy to sanction the exit bill if it is presented as helping to secure a good trade deal. Jacob Rees-Mogg, a leading Leave supporter, said: “[If] we leave Article 50 without a deal we have no legal obligation in the EU, UK or under international law to make a payment. For a chancellor to throw around £40 billion without the certainty of a deal when the public finances are so squeezed must be an error.”
David Davies, a Tory MP, said: “Unless we get a trade deal I don’t think we should pay them a damn penny.”
The chancellor also disclosed that the cabinet was yet to have a full discussion on the preferred “end-state position” for Britain after Brexit. He said the government would not simply agree to pay whatever the EU demanded.