24 November 2017
BREXITEER Patrick Minford slammed EU chiefs over their demands for a multi-billion pound Brexit divorce bill, saying they should be pleased to be receiving any contribution at all.
The economist said UK negotiators had received “brickbats” from European Union chiefs in return for a “neighbourly” gesture of goodwill.
Theresa May is facing a massive rebellion and resignations from her government if she tries to push through a Brexit deal with a £36 billion divorce bill.
Professor Minford added Britain did not have to agree to any Brexit fee “at all” with the Brussels bloc.
Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, Professor Minford, chairman of the Economists for Free Trade, said the EU should be grateful for any contribution to help the bloc out of its “hole”.
He said: “We don’t have to agree to any divorce bill at all. It’s astonishing that the EU is so inflexible about the negotiations because the only basis in which we would ever agree to pay them anything is as good neighbours to help them over a tough spot of us leaving them.
“Yet they just throw it back in our faces the whole time as if we’re the supplicants. Actually, we’re just trying to be nice to these guys.
“Give them a bit of money because after all, we know they’re in a bit of a hole, we’re going to take away our contribution.
“But all we get is brickbats in return, it’s quite extraordinary.
“I would have thought they would say ‘thank you, thank you, let’s do a deal, let’s be friends, thank you for offering us some money, which we’ve no right to ask you for’.”
The angry UK backlash against a massive divorce bill was fueled by European Commission’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier on Monday, who said Britain could have no access to single market benefits and British banks could not have any passporting rights.
The insult to Britain came as the Prime Minister chaired a meeting of her Brexit “war cabinet” to discuss increasing the offer to the EU, with pro-Remain Chancellor Philip Hammond said to be pushing for a £36 billion divorce bill.
Mr Barnier’s words have strengthened the hand of pro-Brexit MPs who argue that there is no point in trying to get a deal with the EU.
On Monday night, senior Tory MPs were lining up to warn Mrs May that she needs to quit the talks and prepare for World Trade Organisation rules, which will hurt the EU more than the UK and mean Brussels “will not get a penny” from Britain.