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Sat, 30 May 2020

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Dominic Raab: Britain will not pay Brexit divorce bill unless trade deal is agreed

Dominic Raab: Britain will not pay Brexit divorce bill unless trade deal is agreed

Liz Bates

2 min read

Britain will not pay its £39bn Brexit divorce bill unless a trade deal with the EU is agreed, Dominic Raab has said.

In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, the Brexit Secretary insisted that Article 50 – which triggered the UK’s exit from the EU – states that the cash is dependent on securing an agreement.

He told the newspaper: “Article 50 requires, as we negotiate the withdrawal agreement, that there’s a future framework for our new relationship going forward, so the two are linked.

“You can’t have one side fulfilling its side of the bargain and the other side not, or going slow, or failing to commit on its side.

“So I think we do need to make sure that there’s some conditionality between the two.”

The declaration contradicts the Government’s previous stance, which was to honour the financial settlement regardless of the circumstances of the UK’s departure.

In December 2017, Chancellor Philip Hammond said: “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.”

However, Brexiteers have repeatedly called on the Government to make the divorce bill dependent on Britain’s terms of exit, with MPs threatening to the enshrine the demand in legislation through an amendment into the Government’s Implementation Bill.

Asked if he would consider such a move, Mr Raab replied: “Certainly it needs to go into the arrangements we have at international level with our EU partners. We need to make it clear that the two are linked.”

The intervention comes after Theresa May’s latest Brexit plan received widespread criticism, prompting Cabinet resignations and leading to a series of knife-edge Commons votes.

And in a further blow on Friday, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier tore into the proposals – which were set out in a white paper last week – questioning if they were “workable” or even “legal”.

Read the most recent article written by Liz Bates - Jeremy Corbyn admits he would rather see a Brexit deal than a second referendum