Dominic Raab: UK could refuse to pay Brexit divorce bill if Brussels delays negotiations
The UK could refuse to pay the £40bn Brexit divorce bill if EU negotiators refuse to play ball, Dominic Raab warned today.
The new Brexit Secretary said any slowdown of talks on a future trade deal could “have consequences” for the commitments made by Britain “including in respect to the financial obligations”.
He issued the ultimatum to Brussels as he laid out the details of the Government Brexit position in the House of Commons.
The Treasury has estimated the UK will pay up to £39bn after it quits the EU to fulfil obligations made in previous years.
In recent months the Government has indicated the cash was guaranteed, but the intervention by Mr Raab - who only took over from David Davis on Monday - appears to be a serious ramping up of rhetoric towards Brussels.
Speaking as he presented the Government's long-awaited Brexit white paper to the Commons, he told MPs: “If we found, having agreed the withdrawal agreement, that the progress towards the future trade and special partnership arrangement was not proceeding apace, then it would have consequences for the rights and the obligations that the UK has undertaken, including in respect to the financial obligations that we undertake.”
Mr Raab added: “We’ve made it very clear that there’s no deal until we’ve got the whole deal done, and that means that in relation to the sequential nature of these negotiations that there is going to be a link between the two.”
In May Brexit minister Suella Braverman said the UK would end up legally tied in to the divorce agreement before the EU signs off on a new trade deal.
And the Commons Brexit Select Committee noted that a clause to make payment of the bill conditional on a free trade agreement had not been written into the official withdrawal deal struck with Brussels.
A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said: "We have always said on that that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed."
Last month MPs on the Public Accounts Committee warned that the final divorce bill could end up being some £10bn more than estimated by the Treasury.
PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe