‘WE are going through our potential financial commitments line by line,’ Tory PM Theresa May said in a statement to Parliament yesterday afternoon about last week’s European Council meeting about Brexit.
At that meeting the EU concluded that ‘sufficient progress had not been made’ on how much the UK is willing to pay to get out, and so trade negotiations will not begin. May’s Brexit team has given a figure of 20bn euros which the UK would be willing to pay, whereas the EU have indicated that they expect as much as 100bn euros to leave the EU.
May told the House of Commons: ‘I gave two clear commitments on the financial settlement, that the UK will honour commitments that we have made during the period of our membership and that none of our EU partners should fear that they should pay more or receive less over the remainder of the current budget plan as a result of our decision to leave.
‘And second, a proposed time limited implementation period based on current terms which is in the interest of both the UK and the EU.’ There were reports that May privately assured EU leaders that she is willing to pay up to 40bn euros.
Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn demanded: ‘Will the Prime Minister confirm reports that she privately assured European leaders that Britain would pay more than the offer she previously made in her Florence speech?
‘If this is the case, is she confident that this would pass the red lines set out by her Foreign Secretary a few weeks ago? The Prime Minister hails the progress she has made so far in these negotiations. The biggest battle the Prime Minister faces isn’t so much with the 27 European states, the Chancellor so desperately described as “the enemy”, it is her battle to bring together the warring factions of her own cabinet and party.
‘And the Prime Minister is too weak to do anything about it. The outcome of crashing out with no deal, to become a deregulated tax haven, the dream of a powerful faction of her backbenchers and her frontbenchers would be a nightmare for people’s jobs and living standards.
‘Labour’s message is different and clear. Only Labour can negotiate a Brexit and a deliver an economy that puts jobs and living standards first and that is what we are ready to do.’
May responded: ‘He spent a long time in his response talking about no deal, well I can only assume that the Labour Party wants to talk about no deal because they simply don’t know what sort of deal they would want.
‘They can’t decide whether they want to be in the single market or not, they can’t decide whether they want to be in the customs union or not, they can’t decide whether they want a second referendum or not, they can’t decide whether they agree with free movement continuing or not, and worst then all of that, actually they say that they would take any deal, whatever the price that they where asked to pay. That is not the way to get a good deal for the UK it is the way to get the worst possible deal for the UK.’
‘Father of the House’ Tory MP Kenneth Clarke said: ‘The main problem is that other European Union leaders can see that a noisy minority in the cabinet and in the back benches of her own party have persuaded themselves that no deal at all is completely desirable.
‘This causes them to doubt, whether she is able to produce a clear picture of where she eventually wants to go and whether she is able to produce a majority here for any agreement they have with her.
‘So has she considered, she may have done already, appointing some trusted minister to make approaches to leading members of the opposition party to see if they will live up to some of the things that the leader appears to say, perhaps do better, so at least we can have a consensus in this parliament in the national interest to outline a transitional deal?
‘A deal that at least will enable us to then negotiate the final details and arrangements that the majority of this House must agree is in the long term interest of the country.’