Brexit divorce bill must be fair and transparent: Paisley

The UK must 'meet any financial obligations' when it leaves the EU, a senior DUP MP has said amid reports that the Brexit '˜divorce bill' could be as high as £50bn.

Thursday, 30th November 2017, 7:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 12:38 pm
Reports have suggested the government could pay £50bn to leave the EU

DUP MP Ian Paisley was reluctant to comment on “speculation” regarding the settlement figure the British government will offer Brussels.

However, the pro-Brexiteer said the final bill must be “fair and transparent”, adding: “There has been a lot of speculation about what the UK will end up paying the EU when we leave.

“I am content to play a tactical game – let’s wait and see what the final figure is before having a knee-jerk reaction.

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Prime Minister Theresa May

“Some people have suggested that we do not owe the EU anything. But a key principle in all this is that the UK is not reluctant to pay whatever money is owed.

“Remember there are a number of things that we can offset the cost of leaving the EU. For example, we have paid for various buildings and institutions across Europe over the years, and I am sure that will be taken into the final calculations.”

Remainers and Leavers alike have slammed reports that the UK will offer to pay up to £50bn to the EU in order to move on to the next round of the Brexit negotiations, which will focus on trade.

The amount of money the UK will pay as part of Brexit has been one of the main sticking points in the first round of talks.

Prime Minister Theresa May

The government is hoping to move on to talking about trade but the EU will only do this when it deems “sufficient progress” has been made on three areas – the so-called divorce bill, the rights of EU citizens in the UK after Brexit and the Irish border.

Heads of government will meet at the European Council summit on December 14-15 to decide whether to move to the next phase of the negotiations.

Claims by some critics that the government is capitulating to Brussels on the issue of the divorce bill has been dismissed by DUP MP Jim Shannon.

He told the News Letter: “A lot of figures have been bandied about and neither the government nor the EU have confirmed this rumoured amount of £50bn.”

Following the reported deal on a divorce bill, Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson has called on EU leaders to move on to discussing the future UK-EU trading relationship in Brexit talks.

Mr Nicholson said: “If it is the case that the financial settlement has been agreed between the UK and the EU, this marks a significant step in progress in talks.

“The reported figure of some £50bn is indeed a very large sum of money. I hope that as negotiations progress, the EU doesn’t start asking for more.

“It is in the best interests of all parties that we now move to discussing the future UK-EU trading relationship.

“This is also key to finding a solution to the border difficulties.”

The reported offer of £50bn to Brussels has been denounced by former Ukip leader Nigel Farage as a “sellout”.

“I have always argued that no deal is better than a bad deal,” he said.