Macron calls for £36bn, double what Britain has offered to pay
THERESA MAY was told by European Union leaders yesterday that she must be willing to pay more for Britain to leave the bloc before any discussions on future trade can go ahead.
French President Emmanuel Macron suggested that the EU should receive £36 billion.
He dismissed an earlier offer of £18bn from Britain’s Brexit team, saying that it would not even take them “halfway” to negotiations.
Mr Macron also said Ms May had not mentioned the possibility of a no-deal outcome when she addressed EU leaders over dinner on Thursday evening. He indicated that the idea could be “bluffing” by “secondary players.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that a breakthrough in December “depends to a large extent” on the British government, adding: “The topic of financial commitments is the dominating issue in that regard.”
Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar held Ms May to her promise that no EU nation would have to pay more in or receive less than if Britain was not leaving the bloc.
Mr Varadkar also revealed that the PM had told EU leaders over dinner that she would not accept a physical border between Northern Ireland and the republic.
Ms May repeatedly dodged questions at the two-day European Council summit in Brussels over how much Britain would pay.
She insisted that the size of a “full and final settlement” would not emerge until agreement was reached on all aspects of Brexit.
The PM also did not rule out that it could be “many more billions” than the £18bn she cited in her speech in Florence last month.
She added that her officials would spend the coming weeks going through Britain’s financial commitments to the EU “line by line.”
Ms May indicated that Britain would be ready to pay “relevant costs” of continued participation in EU projects in areas such as science, research and criminal justice, but said an overall figure could not be expected before the final deal was known, which is not expected before autumn 2018.
The scrutiny of the financial commitments would be in preparation of a summit in December, when it is hoped leaders of the 27 remaining EU states will finally give the green light to the second phase of Brexit talks.
The 27 leaders took just 90 seconds to approve a programme of internal work on their position on trade in preparation for possible talks.
They insisted that this step would depend on further progress being made on divorce issues including expats’ rights, the Irish border and the financial settlement.