THE UK will not pay its £39 billion “divorce bill” to Brussels if it is refused a Brexit deal, Dominic Raab has insisted.
The tough talking from the Brexit Secretary came after Prime Minister Theresa May made it clear Britain would rethink its agreement to pay the exit settlement in full if it did not achieve an arrangement on future trading relations.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Raab stated that if there was no deal “the Government would not pay the terms of the financial settlement”.
“There’s no deal without the whole deal,” he added.
The remarks came as the Government was releasing a new raft of technical papers on Thursday expected to focus on how a no-deal Brexit would impact on things such as mobile phone roaming charges.
Mr Raab said the Government wanted a good agreement, but added: “It will require our EU friends to match the ambition and pragmatism we have demonstrated.
“If that doesn’t happen, the UK will manage the challenges of no-deal, so we make a success of Brexit.”
The Brexit Secretary also accused people who warned about shortages of food and medicines after a no-deal withdrawal of “scaremongering”, saying it was “nonsense” to claim UK supermarkets would run out of food.
Contingency planning for short-term disruption was nothing new, he added.
The stronger Government stance followed open talk at a meeting of Tory backbenchers in the hardline Brexit European Research Group (ERG) of a bid to topple Mrs May as PM unless she abandoned the Chequers strategy on EU withdrawal.
ERG chairman Jacob Rees-Mogg told Channel 4 News: “Chequers is a dying duck in a thunder storm, if it is not quite a dead duck.”
The move to release a fresh raft of technical Brexit papers comes amid speculation that leaving the EU without a solid agreement could see the return of levies for using mobile devices on the continent.
The pro-Europe Best for Britain campaign said the re-imposition of roaming charges could cost business people visiting the EU up to £778 a month.
In his column for the Telegraph, Mr Raab said the technical papers would include plans for “protecting consumers from mobile phone roaming charges”.
Other areas covered by the documents will include the impact of a no-deal scenario on standards relating to the environment and vehicles.
The papers will be published after a special meeting of the Cabinet focused on how a no-deal outcome could be handled.
Mr Raab, who will hold talks with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels on Friday, said: “With six months to go until the UK leaves the European Union, we are stepping up our ‘no-deal’ preparations so that Britain can continue to flourish, regardless of the outcome of negotiations.
“These technical notices are part and parcel of our sensible, pragmatic approach to preparing for all outcomes.
“Getting a deal with the European Union is still by far and away the most likely outcome, and I will continue to champion our Chequers proposals with Michel Barnier as the best way of securing the deep and special partnership we want with the EU.”
Meanwhile, the first meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee on European Negotiations since Parliament’s summer recess will also be held on Thursday.
It will bring together senior ministers, members of the Scottish and Welsh administrations, and representatives from the Northern Ireland civil service where powersharing is currently suspended.