Michel Barnier said he was “disappointed” by the UK position and publicly warned the British team it should go back to the drawing board after it presented a legal analysis arguing that Britain owed far less than the Commission believed.
“So there’s a moral dilemma here: you can’t have 27 paying for what was decided by 28, so what was decided by 28 member states, that has to be borne out by 28 member states right up to the end, it’s as simple as that.
The UK says it wants to go through the Brexit bill line-by-line to work out what it owes the EU, but the EU says spending commitments already agreed to during the current budget round should simply be honored.
David Davis told the House of Commons earlier this week that he had “significant differences” with the EU on the Brexit divorce bill and that the two sides were taking “very different legal stances”.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has said the final divorce bill could be around £55bn. Mr. Davis has dismissed reports the UK secretly agreed on a bill of up to £50bn. Others suggested the divorce bill could reach £92bn.
The so-called divorce bill has caused controversy for months. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson faced criticism in July for suggesting the EU could “go whistle” if they expected the UK to pay any money to leave.
EU negotiators were said to have been left “flabbergasted” after British lawmakers told them there was little or no legal basis for their £90billion claim. A young civil servant reportedly left EU negotiators “open-mouthed” with a line-by-line “technical” demolition of the demand.
Tory grandee John Redwood said last night that there was no legal basis for the demand. He also said Mr Davis had no right to authorise it without parliamentary approval.
“Article 50 is clear,” he said. “Once a state leaves it has no further rights and benefits, and no further duties or obligations. It is of course true the treaty does not prevent the EU accepting a payment volunteered by a departing state if it wished to pay one. However, the UK could not make such a payment legally under our own law and system for controlling public spending.”
The former Welsh secretary, who voted for Brexit, said ministers have “absolutely no authority to make one-off additional payments to the EU. The only way Mr. Davis could authorize a leaving payment would be to put through an Act of Parliament specifically authorizing such an ex gratia payment. I can’t see many Conservative MPs wanting to vote for that.”
Eurosceptics on both sides of the house said MPs were likely to vote down any demand deemed “excessive” – even those who had voted Remain.
Mr Rees-Mogg said: “Almost certainly there will have to be a vote. The money has to be voted through by Parliament and with MPs facing the fury of voters, it cannot be too much money.”
Fellow Brexiteer and Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said: “Any deal will have to go through Parliament and if its seen in any way excessive then it won’t go through.”
Referring to an ICM poll which found that two-thirds of voters would find paying anything over £10 billion “unacceptable”, he added: “That polling data gives you a ballpark figure of what the British public would find acceptable. We buy more from the EU than we sell, we aren’t charging them for access to our market so what possible reason would they have to charge us for access to theirs unless they want to cost Europeans their livelihoods?
“The British public won’t accept a punishment payment. No MP in their right mind would vote for that, whether they are Brexiteers or Remainers. The EU is talking about multi-billion pound payments in line with the entire NHS budget. The electorate won’t stand for it.”
Labour MP Kate Hoey, who also voted Leave, agreed. She said: “If you give up your membership of a leisure or social club, you don’t have to carry on paying for the staff pensions after you’ve left.”
Journalist Blasts Bexit Divorce Bill
He surprised others on the news panel show Dateline after the three other correspondents relentlessly criticised David Davis and the British negotiating team.
Mr. Burns also hit out at Michel Barnier’s “frankly insulting” tone towards Britain and warned Jean-Claude Juncker that he was “sitting on a volcano”.
John Fisher Burns, who previously worked for the New York Times, delivered a stunning rebuke as the lone voice defending Britain’s approach to Brexit on a BBC show.
“Barnier’s position seems to be a combination of Napoleonic hauteur and fairground hucksterism,” said Burns.
MPs Threaten to BLOCK any Big Brexit Divorce Bill
MPs are threatening to block any big divorce bill Theresa May tries to agree with the EU. The warnings underline the scale of the challenge the government faces if it signs up to paying large sums of money to Brussels. The EU has made clear it wants up to £100 billion to settle the UK’s ‘liabilities’ when we leave the bloc.
Eurocrats have insisted the principles of the financial divorce must be agreed before they will start talking about trade talks – effectively attempting to hold the UK to ransom.
There are claims ministers might be willing to consider a figure closer to £50billion to end the stand-off- although Brexit Secretary David Davis has dismissed that as ‘total rubbish’.
Even a significantly lower payment could be a serious problem for the government, with leading Eurosceptics insisting an Act of Parliament would be needed to authorize handing over the cash.
Former Cabinet minister John Redwood said he did not believe many MPs would vote in favor of such a payment.
‘The only way UK Ministers could authorize a leaving payment would be to put through an Act of Parliament specifically authorizing such an ex gratia payment. I can’t see many Conservative MPs wanting to vote for that,’ he told The Sun.
Labour MP Kate Hoey added: ‘I suspect a lot of MPs would in principle vote against any excessive payment.
‘I would vote against paying a big bill unless I could be convinced that all the money we have paid in over many years had been taken into account first.
‘But my quick calculations suggest that the British public would be expecting to pay very very little, if anything at all.’
The UK owes the EU nothing. £10 billion would be a generous offer.
The EU may stall, and stall and stall. Another possibility is the UK agree may agree to a lengthy transition period in which the UK keeps paying EU dues. Those dues could mount up.
To avoid such stalling tactics, The best thing to do is simply leave and pay nothing, then revoke EU fishing rights and threaten to lower corporate taxes. Then and only then will negotiations make any sense.
Unfortunately, the nannycrats still act as if they have the upper hand. The sooner the UK ends that delusion, the better.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock