Top Tory MPs are pushing for the Government to reconsider paying the £39 billion divorce bill to the EU if Brussels fails to agree to a fair trade deal by the end of the year.
With Britain’s chief negotiator David Frost confirming that the UK government will not cave in to EU and Remainer demands and not extend the transition period at the end of the year, MPs are pushing for negotiators to get tough. The need to keep hold of Britain’s £39 billion has also been underlined by the cost of dealing with coronavirus particularly the economic £250 billion rescue package announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak to protect jobs and businesses.
There are concerns that the EU is deliberately briefing that the transition period will have to be extended while Michel Barnier’s negotiation team drags its feet to try to force a delay in Britain being free of EU rules.
North West Leicestershire MP Andrew Bridgen said: “Circumstances have changed. The UK taxpayer now has a major bill to pick up to pay for the coronavirus aftermath.
“We cannot afford to pay huge sums of money to a dysfunctional organisation which we are no longer part of.
“The government needs to look at this again particularly if the EU fails to conclude an acceptable trade deal with us we should be paying nothing.”
Wellingborough MP Peter Bone pointed out that talks can easily be done over video conferencing and there was no need to delay.
He said: “Given that Britain has paid the EU around £210 billion already they should be paying us not us them.
“I never agreed that we should pay them £39 billion.
“If the EU itself does not act in good faith and agree on a sensible proper free trade deal then we should rethink the money we promised to pay in the Withdrawal Agreement.”
Former cabinet minister David Jones said: “It is good that David Frost has confirmed the transition period will end on 31 December.
“The government has said it will pay what is due but we should not pay a penny more.”
This week it was announced that three weeks of talks would take place in the run-up to the summer 20 April, 11 May and 1 June.Mark Francois, the chairman of the pro-Brexit European Research Group of Tory MPs, said that the £39 billion was a commitment in the Withdrawal Agreement so would be hard to reverse.But he warned that by trying to extend the transition period Brussels was also trying to increase British payments.He said: “The Prime Minister’s Chief Negotiator, David Frost, has now emphatically ruled out any extension of the transition period, in which he has our complete support. Moreover, extending the transition could cost billions more in additional payments to the EU, which we and I am sure the bulk of the country would strongly oppose.”