The gridlock in the London-Brussels talks on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU doesn’t show signs of going away.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has agreed to pay the EU a higher Brexit divorce bill, worth about 40 billion pounds (approximately 52 billion dollars), a move that has already caused a furious Tory backlash.
The decision was agreed upon with May’s Cabinet ministers during the November 20 meeting, where May reportedly made it plain that the hefty sum will be paid in exchange for “securing an acceptable transition deal and a good free trade agreement,” according to The Independent, which described it as a “something for something approach.”
The Daily Mail, for its part, quoted the Conservative Party’s senior MP Nigel Evans as saying that PM May should say “no” to “ransom” demands from the EU.
“We cannot play Santa for Juncker, and Scrooge for public services. The public will not accept it and they are right not to,” Evans said.
Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, in turn, said that in September, May had already had made a ‘generous offer’ with respect to the EU, worth £20 billion.
“We should not be offering any more money at this stage. Negotiation is about strength and courage and we have to make sure we don’t give in every time they ask for more,” Smith was quoted by the Daily Mail as saying.
He was echoed by former minister Robert Halfon, one of the pro-Remain Tories, who predicted that “the public will go bananas if we start saying that we’re going to give £40billion to the EU.”
“I cannot believe that the public would accept such a huge amount when we need money for our schools, our hospitals, our housing, and many other things,” Halfon said.
In September, British media reported that May could line up an additional 20 billion pounds (26 billion dollars) for the EU as part of the divorce bill due to fears that London risks missing its December deadline to start negotiating future trade ties with the bloc.
In their secret letter to May in October, Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Environment Secretary Michael GovJohnson demanded that transition arrangements for the UK’s exit from the EU should wrap up on June 30, 2021.
The Brexit talks between, which kicked off on June 19, are expected to wrap up before the end of March 2019. In a referendum on June 23, 2016, about 51.9 percent of British said “yes” to their country leaving the bloc.