British Prime Minister Theresa May will demand that Brussels return £9 billion ($11 billion) of UK assets held by an EU bank as soon as she triggers Brexit negotiations, government sources said.
The Sunday Times said its journalists saw a legal advice circulating in the government that states the UK not only has no legal responsibility to pay a penny for leaving the EU, but has the full right to demand a refund from the European Investment Bank (EIB).
“The UK, on EU exit, is entitled to the return of its paid-up capital and indeed to a corresponding share of the accumulated reserves of the EIB,” the legal opinion, written by Martin Howe, a leading Tory barrister, says as quoted by The Sunday Times.
“Overall, the UK should be entitled on exit to a net payment in its favor, corresponding to the value of its capital invested in the EIB.”
May will communicate the British stance to the EU leadership after she triggers Article 50, authorizing the exit talks, government sources told the paper.
“The PM will be saying the British people voted to take back control of their money. There’s absolutely no way you can sell to the British people we’re leaving Europe but we’re going to pay £50bn,” The Times said, quoting a source “familiar with deliberations over the letter.”
The British contribution of £9 billion currently accounts for 16 percent of the European Investment Bank’s total funds. Brussels is reportedly demanding that the UK pay almost £50 billion ($61 billion) to terminate its membership of the European Union.
May earlier promised that she would invoke Article 50 by March 31 if the bill was backed by the parliament.
The Labour Party’s Brexit spokesman, Keir Starmer, said that the exit talks may be triggered as early as Wednesday or Thursday.