Brexit: UK ‘will not pay’ £39bn bill if there is no Brexit deal

Downing Street releasing new raft of post-Brexit advice papers

Brexit secretary Dominic Raab arrives at Downing Street on Thursdsay for a special cabinet meeting. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Brexit secretary Dominic Raab arrives at Downing Street on Thursdsay for a special cabinet meeting. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)


The UK will not pay its £39 billion (€44 billion) “divorce bill” to Brussels if there is no overall deal on its departure form the EU, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab has insisted.

The comments came after British Prime Minister Theresa May made it clear Britain would rethink its agreement to pay the exit settlement in full if it did not achieve an arrangement on future trading relations.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Raab stated that if there is no deal “the government would not pay the terms of the financial settlement. “There’s no deal without the whole deal.”

The remarks came as Downing Street was releasing a new raft of technical papers on Thursday expected to focus on how a no deal Brexit would impact on things like mobile phone roaming charges and driving licences.

Mr Raab said the British government wanted a good agreement, but added: “It will require our EU friends to match the ambition and pragmatism we have demonstrated. If that doesn’t happen, the UK will manage the challenges of no-deal, so we make a success of Brexit.”

The Brexit Secretary also accused people who warned about shortages of food and medicines after a no-deal withdrawal of “scaremongering”. The stronger Government stance followed open talk at a meeting of Tory backbenchers in the hardline Brexit European Research Group (ERG) of a bid to topple Mrs May as PM unless she abandoned the Chequers strategy on EU withdrawal.

ERG chairman Jacob Rees-Mogg told Channel 4 News: “Chequers is a dying duck in a thunder storm, if it is not quite a dead duck.”

The move to release a fresh raft of technical Brexit papers comes amid speculation that leaving the EU without a solid agreement could see the return of levies for using mobile devices for UK residents travelling in the EU. The pro-Europe Best for Britain campaign said the re-imposition of roaming charges could cost business people visiting the EU up to £778 (€870) a month.

Other areas covered by the documents will include the impact of a no deal scenario on standards relating to the environment and vehicles. The papers will be published after a special meeting of the Cabinet focused on how a no deal outcome could be handled.

Mr Raab, who will hold talks with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels on Friday, said: “With six months to go until the UK leaves the European Union, we are stepping up our ‘no deal’ preparations so that Britain can continue to flourish, regardless of the outcome of negotiations.

“These technical notices are part and parcel of our sensible, pragmatic approach to preparing for all outcomes. Getting a deal with the European Union is still by far and away the most likely outcome, and I will continue to champion our Chequers proposals with Michel Barnier as the best way of securing the deep and special partnership we want with the EU.”

Liberal Democrat MP and Best for Britain supporter Layla Moran said that the cost of a hard Brexit on British travellers is becoming abundantly clear.

“Millions of people are facing higher costs to make calls and texts abroad because of the Prime Minister’s botched Brexit plans.”

Britain has stepped up planning for the effects of a no-deal departure and on Thursday afternoon will publish 28 technical notices on the impact on areas including customs and borders, competition, fisheries and aviation.

As the UK prime minister, Theresa May tries to clinch a deal with Brussels, she is facing rebels in her Conservative Party who say they will vote down any deal that fails to deliver a sharp break with the EU.

Mr Raab, speaking to BBC radio, said he did not believe May’s government would lose a vote in parliament on the deal.

Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, said on Monday that a Brexit deal was possible “within six or eight weeks” if negotiators were realistic in their demands. - PA/Reuters