Brexit Secretary David Davis has issued a spiky letter to his Labour counterpart Keir Starmer, asking him to “spell out exactly how much” he would offer for the EU divorce bill.
As talks between UK and EU negotiators faltered today, Starmer wrote to say he was “deeply concerned” about a lack of progress on the financial settlement, six months on from the triggering of Article 50.
Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, said negotiations had reached a “very disturbing state of deadlock”, with talks on the future trading relationship unable to open until the bill is agreed.
Estimates on the size of the divorce bill have varied from around £54bn to £90bn.
Starmer called for additional emergency talks to break the logjam, before tweeting his letter.
“The Government must recognise the gravity of the situation, drop the ideological red lines and work round-the-clock to find a resolution to current situation,” wrote Starmer.
Davis responded within a matter of hours.
He said: “If you are prepared to spell out exactly how much taxpayers’ money you think we should offer the European Union in order to progress talks, or set out what role you see for the European Court of Justice after we leave the European Union, I would be happy to engage on your points in detail.”
The Brexit Secretary also said Starmer was right to flag that talks had stalled, before adding: “So to that end, I wonder why it is that your party has not taken action against the 18 Labour MEPs who voted last week to block further talks.”
Theresa May barred two of tory MEPs after they broke the party whip and voted for the same motion as the Labour MEPs, which demanded the UK do more to meet EU demands, including resolve the Irish border question, the rights of EU citizens as well as the financial settlement.
Davis did not answer Starmer’s point on additional emergency talks but instead said it was “not a question of time or effort” but one of “scope and effort”.