LABOUR’S shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer called yesterday for an emergency round of talks between the government and the EU after Brussels lamented a “disturbing deadlock” on Britain’s “divorce settlement.”
The size of Britain’s “Brexit bill” was not even discussed during this week’s negotiations, the EU’s top negotiator Michel Barnier said after the end of a fifth round of formal talks.
The bloc maintains that Britain will need to pay towards the cost of obligations the EU enters into while it is a member. Daniel Gros of the Centre for European Policy Studies in Belgium has calculated such a bill at around €10 billion (£9bn), based on the fact that the EU has net liabilities of €72bn (£64bn) and Britain has a 14 per cent share in its budget, but Brussels chiefs have been holding out for sums as high as €100bn (£90bn).
“The deadlock in negotiations increases the risk of Britain crashing out of the EU without a deal. That would be catastrophic for jobs and living standards and must be rejected,” Mr Starmer wrote in a letter to Brexit Secretary David Davis.
Mr Davis and Mr Barnier have clashed over the content of discussions, with the Tory minister asking for earlier talks on a future trade deal which Brussels rejects pending satisfaction over the rights of EU citizens in Britain, the Irish border and the Brexit bill.
Trade Unionists Against the EU secretary Doug Nicholls said the EU was playing hard-ball but its position was “very weak.
“Since joining, Britain has been a massive net contributor to the EU budget, directly helping build some of the grand buildings for the bureaucrats, paying their astronomical expenses and funding many of the remedial schemes to deal with the worst effects of mass unemployment which the EU’s own deflationary policies have caused.
“You could say they owe us a great deal.
“The real agenda is that the EU is deeply worried that the election of a Labour government outside the single market and customs union will see British industries and public services rebuilt, encouraging other nations in the EU to look twice at the disadvantages of their own membership.”
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