Polictics Today: Britain to pay Brexit divorce bill before trade deal, minister admits

Polictics Today: Britain to pay Brexit divorce bill before trade deal, minister admits

Politics Today

Britain will pay the Brexit divorce bill before details of a future exchange bargain are worked out, a minister conceded today.

Suella Braverman raised questions about the administration's promise that 'nothing is concurred until the point that everything is concurred' as she offered proof to MPs.

The expression has been a key board of Theresa May's approach since she became up Prime Minister.

Before Christmas Mrs May joined to a divorce settlement with Brussels of around £39billion - however Brexiteers have been inflexible that the UK ought not pay a penny unless there is a decent exchange bargain.

Appearing before the EU Committee, Mrs Braverman risked fuelling Eurosceptic concerns by admitting MPs will not be in possession of a 'legal text' when they come to vote on accepting the withdrawal package this Autumn.

But she insisted that there would be a 'political declaration' that would be 'instructive' about the shape of the future trade agreement.

'Technically, the legal text of the future framework will not be before parliament in October when we have this meaningful vote,' Mrs Braverman said.

'However the political declaration will be detailed, it will be instructive.'

She stressed that the legal text of the withdrawal agreement would including a clause urging 'good faith' on both sides.

'The duty of good faith should not be ignored in this context. It's more than just words,' Mrs Braverman added.

Asked if the UK could stop paying the divorce bill if it was not happy with the detail of the trade deal, she said: 'If there was going to be a change in circumstances whereby those payments were to stop, that would require renegotiating.'

Downing Street played down the comments, insisting there was no reason to suggest the EU would renege on the political commitment to a trade deal.

'In the same way that we made a political agreement with the EU in December, I'm not sure why you make the suggestion the EU wouldn't honour any agreement that they've made,' a spokesman said.

The divorce agreement struck in December covered the financial settlement, as well as EU citizens' rights and a 'backstop' plan for avoiding customs checks between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

After the hearing Labour's Pat McFadden, who supports the pro-EU Open Britain campaign, said: 'The mess Suella Braverman got into over payments to the EU is a stark illustration of the complete chaos in Government over Brexit.

'She was forced to admit that the financial settlement with the EU is part of the withdrawal agreement and is not conditional on agreement on the future relationship. So much for taking back control.'

Downing Street insisted that Parliament will vote on the withdrawal deal along with 'the terms of our future relationship'.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: 'We have been absolutely clear that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.

'We are clear that we intend to agree the future framework at the same time as the withdrawal agreement. 'Article 50 sets out that the withdrawal agreement should take account of the forms of the departing statement's future relationship with the EU.

'This means Parliament will vote on the withdrawal agreement at the same time as the terms of our future relationship with the EU.'

Asked about Mrs Braverman's comments during a press conference in Chile, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said: 'Article 50 makes it absolutely clear that the terms of the withdrawal have to be seen in the context of the future relationship.

'I just remind you of the basic fact of negotiations, which is that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.' 


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