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EU rejects call to re-open Brexit divorce deal after top Tories complain it will leave UK liable for £160bn of unpaid loans

The EU has rejected calls to re-open the Withdrawal Agreement after criticism from Brexiteers (PA)

2 min read

The European Commission has rejected calls to re-open the Brexit divorce deal despite anger from senior Conservatives that it could leave the UK liable for £160billion of unpaid loans.

Ex-Conservative leader and Sir Iain Duncan Smith said the Withdrawal Agreement signed by Boris Johnson last year needed to be rewritten as it means the UK is "hooked into the EU's loan book”.

He argued the UK's liabilities go far beyond the £39billion the Government agreed to hand over due to potential defaults on loans made available through the European Investment Bank and European Financial Stability Mechanism.

But Commission spokesman Eric Mamer said: "I think it's very clear that we are not going to get into a debate with British politicians on liabilities or any other of the provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement.

"The Withdrawal Agreement is there, it is now a firm document that has been accepted by both parties and it is the basis on which both sides are acting.

"In this document it is clear that that the United Kingdom has taken a certain number of completely normal legal commitments when it comes to its share of liabilities related to loans that would have been given by the EIB whilst the UK was still a member of the European Union."

He added: "What we can say is that the Withdrawal Agreement stands, that in it the United Kingdom has taken a certain number of perfectly reasonable commitments related to the time when it was still a member of the European Union relating to its share of liabilities on loans given out by the EIB, and we have nothing further to comment on this."

Sir Iain claimed Brussels "want our money and they want to stop us being a competitor".

And he said the Withdrawal Agreement - agreed by the PM and the 27 EU members - “sadly helps them”.

He tweeted: “To avoid their own budget black hole, the EU gets £39billion as a ‘divorce payment’ from us, reflecting our share of the current EU budget.

"But it gets worse. Buried in the fine print, unnoticed by many, is the fact we remain hooked into the EU’s loan book.”

The leading Brexiteer added: “You can't be half in the EU and half out, the problem is the Withdrawal Agreement. It costs too much and it denies us true national independence. 

“This Withdrawal Agreement giving the EU future control over us has to go. Now Britain faces a £160billion EU loans bill after Brexit.”

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