POLITICS

Voters Will 'Go Bananas' At £40bn Brexit Divorce Bill, Warns Tory MP

Robert Halfon says public wants money spent on public services.

20/11/2017 09:20 GMT | Updated 20/11/2017 11:47 GMT

The public will “go bananas” if the government agrees to pay the European Union a £40bn divorce bill, a senior Tory MP has warned.

Robert Halfon, a former vice-chairman of the Conservative Party, said voters would not understand such a large sum of money being handed over to Brussels.

The EU has demanded the UK agrees to settle its financial commitments before Brexit negotiations can move on to any future trade relationship.

According to The Financial Times, May is prepared to increase her initial bid of £2bn to €38bn. However that sum is still short of the £53bn demanded by Brussels.

Theresa May will meet with key Cabinet ministers who oversee Brexit talks on Monday morning to discuss the so-called ‘Brexit bill’.

PA Archive/PA Images
Robert Halfon has warned the public will 'go bananas' at a big Brexit bill.

Halfon told BBC Radio 4′s Westminster Hour on Sunday evening: “Well we’ve just been talking about budget constraints, and the difficulty the chancellor has in public spending, and if we start saying that we’re going to give 40 to 50 billion to the EU, I think the public will go bananas, absolutely spare.

“I voted remain because I believe in alliances of democracies in an uncertain world, but we voted to leave, the public want to leave, and 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.

He added: “So I think that is going to be very difficult if it is going to be that sum, amount of money.”

European Council president Donald Tusk has set a deadline of the start of next month for Britain to make further movement on the divorce bill and Irish border for EU leaders at summit in December to declare “sufficient progress” has been made on withdrawal issues for talks on a future trade relationship to begin.

The Prime Minister’s goal of making a breakthrough at the December 14-15 European Council meeting could be further complicated by the domestic political difficulties facing German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Her attempts to put together a coalition have collapsed, raising the prospect of fresh elections in Germany and meaning that one of the EU’s most significant players will be focused on her own position rather than being fully engaged in the Brexit process.

Philip Hammond told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show the UK was making “serious movement forward” in the negotiations with the EU.

“The Prime Minister is clear that we will meet our obligations to the European Union and as you know, we want to make progress in the discussions at the December Council at the European Union and the Europeans have asked us for more clarity on what we mean by meeting our obligations,” the chancellor said.

“We will make our proposals to the European Union in time for the Council, I am sure about that.”