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British ministers agree to higher EU divorce bill: Sources

21 November 2017 16:00

 

Senior British ministers, including Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, have agreed to higher the EU divorce bill, also called Brexit financial settlement, in order to reach a final deal with the European Union, according to sources.  

The UK ministers have agreed to offer more money to Brussels as part of Brexit negotiations in an attempt to move forward on trade talks with the EU which are due in December, reports said on Tuesday.

A government official told AFP that the ministers held a cabinet sub-committee meeting on Monday night where they agreed to increase Britain’s offer of a financial settlement, but said “no numbers” were discussed.

“It remains our position that nothing’s agreed until everything’s agreed in negotiations with the EU. The UK and the EU should step forward together,” a government source said.

Another unnamed source told the Daily Telegraph newspaper, “Any offer would be determinant on the overall progress of the negotiations, so it’s not a case of ‘take that money and bank on it’.”

Britain has said that London is willing to offer the other 27 EU members “further assurance” on its divorce before the next summit in December.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is reportedly ready to double Britain’s 20 billion euro ($24 billion) offer on the divorce bill in a bid to clear what has been the most difficult obstacle in talks so far. The EU says the exit bill is around 60 billion euros (S$96 billion).

EU Chief Negotiator Barnier has said Britain must increase its financial offer before negotiators will move on to discuss the future trading relationship with the EU.

EU leaders have been increasingly frustrated about divisions in May’s cabinet over Brexit, saying they were still unsure what the UK wanted, even after five rounds of negotiations.

The slow progress of Brexit talks has fueled fears that May’s government may collapse, or worse that London may fail to strike a withdrawal agreement with Brussels before its formal exit from the EU on March 29, 2019, which could cause economic and transport turmoil in the UK and EU.

EU President Donald Tusk has warned Britain that it has two weeks to make “much more progress” on Brexit negotiations in order to begin talks by the end of the year about a future trade deal after the UK’s planned withdrawal from the bloc.

The EU chief’s warning reflects Brussels’ growing impatience with London over its exit bill, EU citizens’ rights and the Irish border. The EU has for months demanded that Britain make “sufficient progress” on these issues.

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