Theresa May has been warned she must enshrine in law a guarantee that the UK’s £39billion divorce bill from the EU will not be paid if Brussels refuses to agree a trade deal.
Speaking after a minister admitted that the country’s draft withdrawal agreement included no “conditionality” on the payment of the bill, MPs said the Prime Minister would have to insert such a clause into future legislation.
Brexiteers in Parliament and Government believe the measure should be included in the planned Withdrawal Agreement and Implementation Bill.
If Mrs May fails to do so Brexiteers “will put it in” themselves, in the form of an amendment, one said.
The leading Brexiteer said: “If there is not something tough put into the Withdrawal Agreement to make payment conditional on agreement of a future economic partnership then we have to put it into legislation. If the Government doesn’t put it in, then Brexiteers will put it in.” Jacob Rees-Mogg, another pro-Leave Tory, said: “The payment of money has to be conditional on a free trade deal and the agreement must say that in no uncertain terms.”
A paper published today by the pro-Brexit Economists for Free Trade group states that the UK can still abandon a trade deal with the EU and seek an arrangement under World Trade Organisation rules without a “cliff edge”.
In a covering letter to the Government, they state: “We propose that Britain should switch its focus toward implementing a World Trade Deal under WTO rules that focuses on the rapidly growing non-EU world, where our trade is already larger than that of the EU.”