David Davis: Brexit withdrawal deal will probably favour EU

Posted On: 
31st October 2017

David Davis has admitted the EU will probably benefit more in the immediate aftermath of Brexit than the UK will.

David Davis at the Lords EU Select Committee today
Parliament TV

In words that will likely anger his anti-EU colleagues, the Brexit Secretary suggested Britain would end up paying a larger amount than hoped for to cover its debts.

The size of the so-called ‘divorce bill’ has been the main stumbling block preventing talks from moving onto a future trade UK/EU trade deal.

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Theresa May has reportedly pledged between €20bn and €40bn to cover UK liabilities and make sure the bloc is not left with a black hole in its budget in the coming years.

Meanwhile Brussels has apparently demanded a far higher figure of more like €60bn.

Mr Davis told peers today there was “something of a tussle” over the sum but the UK would most likely end up losing out.

“The withdrawal agreement, on balance, will probably favour the union in terms of the things like money and so on,” he told the Lords EU Select Committee.

“Whereas the future relationship will favour both sides and will be important to both of us.”

He added that the Government was wary about how the British public would react to the idea of paying a large divorce bill.

But he noted that people “might take a slightly different view” if the settlement came alongside a future trade deal with the bloc.

Mr Davis said the divorce bill issue was more of a “political obligation than a legal one”.

And he said although it was possible the UK might not be able to secure a free trade deal, it was "very improbable" it would leave without arrangements on things like security practices and aviation. 

"Whatever happens we will have some sort of basic deal - I think of it as a deal without the bits we want," he reassured peers.