Architect of Article 50 warns of 'very nasty' Brexit divorce bill talks

Posted On: 
19th January 2017

The British peer who helped draft Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty has warned ministers they face a "very nasty" set of talks over how much money the UK has to pay to leave the EU.

Theresa May pictured ahead of her landmark speech on Tuesday
Credit: 
PA

Lord Kerr of Kinlochard said there would not be "serious negotiations" until autumn of this year, well after the proposed triggering of Brexit before the end of March, The Times reports.

“Article 50 is not about trade, it is about divorce. It’s about paying the bills, dividing the property. The money negotiation is going to be a very nasty negotiation," he told an audience in Glasgow yesterday.

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The former Brussels diplomat also warned there was a good chance the UK would emerge from talks without any deal. 

“I think there may actually be a one in three chance of no deal," he said.

Theresa May indicated in her landmark Brexit speech on Tuesday that she would be willing to walk away from talks if there was not a satisfactory agreement, an option Lord Kerr claimed would mean "serious economic disruption and a degree of legal chaos".  

It is thought the 'divorce bill' for the UK could stretch to as much as £60bn, covering contributions for areas such as EU workers' pensions.

One diplomat told the Times that if Mrs May was not willing to foot that bill it would weaken her hand in terms of securing a good free trade agreement.

“If this is the case, how can she strike a good deal on trade? This is only the beginning of negotiations. I hope it is not going to be as bumpy as she hints," the diplomat said.