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MPs: Trade deal must be part of Brexit divorce bill

By Rob Golledge | Brexit | Published:

Any financial settlement between Britain and the EU must come with an 'attractive' and 'comprehensive' trade deal, MPs have said.

Top left to right, Pat McFadden and Michael Fabricant, joined bottom, left to right, Sir Bill Cash and Mike Wood, to speak on the Brexit financial settlement plans

Theresa May is proposing offering up to £40bn to Brussels in a bid to start trade talks over Brexit, according to reports.

The figure is double what was originally thought to be on the table.

MPs in the Black Country and Staffordshire have broadly welcomed the move, although some have urged caution and said that payment should only be made on condition of Britain getting an 'acceptable' trade deal.

Labour has hit out at the proposed payment, with Pro-Remain Wolverhampton South East MP Pat McFadden saying the Leave campaign was 'ultimately responsible' for the bill.

Reports suggest a figure of £40bn was agreed at Monday’s Brexit cabinet sub-committee meeting, with Theresa May adopting a 'something for something' approach by accepting a bigger divorce bill in return for concrete movement on trade and transition.

Dudley South Tory MP Mike Wood, who campaigned for Brexit, said: "We cannot judge if any amount is reasonable until we now what the deal is.

"The EU side needs to move on to substantive issues of trade and co-operation. Only then can we come to a view of what we owe.

"We cannot just pluck a figure out of he air."

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Theresa May is thought to be ready to pay up to £40bn to the EU as part of the UK's Brexit divorce bill

Veteran Eurosceptic Sir Bill Cash, the Conservative MP for Stone, said he wanted to see the EU's reasons behind Britain having to 'pay anything' to the bloc.

"It seems to me we need to have it explained what the methodology is for any financial settlement – and both the UK and the EU should publish their methodology so we can understand on what basis they are expecting us to pay anything," he said.

"That may show we have nothing to given them as we have given the EU net contributions of around £200bn since 1973.

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"We also excused half of Germany's debt in 1953, so if this settlement is going to compensate Germany because we are leaving the EU we should refer back to that.

"We need the principles spelt out, and any payment should be conditional on an acceptable trade deal.

"Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed."

Lichfield Tory MP Michael Fabricant, who campaigned for Brexit, said: "It was always inevitable that we would have to buy our way out of the EU if we were going to achieve a comprehensive trade deal for goods and services.

"Companies like Jaguar Land Rover and JCB have been urging the Government for this.

"We also have some financial contributions to they EU anyway. However, given we already transfer to them over £18bn a year gross, two, three, or four years payment for an attractive trade deal sounds good to me.

"It was always going to be difficult negotiating with the EU and, frankly, witnessing some of their tactics, including leaks of false information from private dinners, convinces me even more we will be well shot of them."

Pro-Remain Labour MP Pat McFadden, who represents Wolverhampton South East and sits on the influential Brexit Select Committee, said: "Maybe Boris Johnson should have put 'it will cost you £40 billion' on the side of his bus?

"Those who led the Leave campaign are ultimately responsible for this divorce bill because they never mentioned it during the course of the campaign.

"We were told there would be £350 million a week for the NHS, but instead we find there is a bill that could possibly be more than £40 billion that comes as a result of the decision to leave the EU."

The Leave.EU campaign has reacted with fury to the proposed deal. Its founder, Aaron Banks, said: "Theresa the appeaser has once again shown she is far from up to the task of leading Britain out of the European Union.

"The increased offer is an absolute disgrace.

"Our campaign has been inundated with complaints from members of the British public who are rightly asking why our government is happy to offer such a huge sum to Brussels when we need to be investing more here in our public services.

"Why we are even contemplating paying a penny to leave a club we run a £70bn trade deficit with baffles me."

Rob Golledge

By Rob Golledge
@golledge_star

Part of the Express & Star special projects team responsible for investigations and major stories from politics to counter terrorism

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