Theresa May 'to demand £9bn back from EU' in Brexit divorce bill talks
Theresa May will reportedly demand some £9bn of UK assets are returned from an EU bank in a bid to cut Britain’s divorce bill when she triggers Brexit.
According to the Sunday Times she will say Britain is entitled to have the funds held in the European Investment Bank handed back when she triggers Article 50.
The two-year negotiation process could begin this week once the Government’s legislation to make it happen has passed through parliament.
Once negotiations start the first row is expected to be over how much cash Britain must hand over to Brussels to cover commitments it has made to future projects among other things.
A common estimate is a €60bn bill (about £53bn) although the UK will hope to reduce the final amount, with government lawyers arguing cash held in the EIB (about €10.1bn) should be returned to Britain for a start.
The legal advice concludes: “Overall the UK should be entitled on exit to a net payment in its favour, corresponding to the value of its capital invested in the EIB.”
A source familiar with the advice told the paper: “The PM will be saying the British people voted to take back control of their money.
“There’s absolutely no way you can sell to the British people we’re leaving Europe but we’re going to pay £50bn.
“If you leave a sports club where you’ve paid an entry fee for years, you don’t keep paying when you leave so other people can use the facilities.”
But a top EU negotiator told the paper: “You cannot compare the EU to a golf club, or to a pub. It’s dangerous to play with this.
“It’s poisonous and it can derail the talks, and yet the UK government seems to keep digging.”
The negotiator added: “Nothing will move forward before Britain pledges to honour its commitments.”