- Cabinet Brexiteers pressure Theresa May not to meet the EU’s demands over Britain’s divorce bill.
- Boris Johnson and David Davis fear that a substantially-increased offer would damage Britain’s negotiating position.
- The PM is reportedly planning on making an offer of around £40 billion in the coming weeks.
LONDON – Brexit Secretary David Davis and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson are reportedly blocking Theresa May from substantially increasing Britain’s offer to the EU on the so-called divorce bill.
EU figures said this week that they expected Prime Minister May to make an offer of around £40 billion in the coming weeks in order to break the deadlock in Brexit negotiations.
The EU is insistent that talks cannot move onto the future relationship, including transition, until “sufficient progress” is made on citizens’ rights, the Irish border, and Britain’s financial settlement.
However, Brexiteers Johnson and Davis are advising May against making an explicit offer on the financial settlement which is close to the EU’s own estimation, which is believed to be around £53 billion.
Johnson fears an offer much greater than the £20 billion offered to the EU earlier this year would damage Britain’s leverage when it comes to negotiating a future trade deal.
“His feeling, along with that of others, is that once we have conceded the money we have lost any residual leverage we have in terms of the trading relationship,” an ally of the foreign secretary cited by the Mail said.
“He is not opposed to making a payment but you cannot make that unilaterally before you know what you are getting in return.”
Johnson’s concerns are shared by Brexit Secretary Davis, according to the FT. The Conservative minister believes the divorce bill must not be too great as a significant amount of money must be put aside for when trade talks begin.
“DD has a specific negotiating strategy,” a colleague of Davis said. “Some money must be held back.”
Davis and Johnson are backed by fellow Brexiteer Liam Fox, while Chancellor Philip Hammond and other Cabinet remainers like Greg Clark are urging May to go ahead with plans for an increased offer.
Davis last night told a conference in Berlin that Britain is seeking to negotiate a comprehensive free-trade deal with the EU covering a range of sectors, and urged Germany against “putting politics above prosperity” in Brexit talks.
“We will be a third country partner like no other,” Davis claimed. “Much closer than Canada, much bigger than Norway, and uniquely integrated on everything from energy networks to services.”
A former senior EU official told Business Insider that figures in Brussels expected the British side to make a formal proposal on the so-called divorce bill immediately following Prime Minister’s May Florence warmly-received speech in September, and were shocked when a proposal did not follow.