PHILIP Hammond has caused fresh fury today after suggesting Britain will still have to pay £36billion to the EU – even if we don’t get a deal.
The Chancellor says Britain still be made to cough up cash to leave the bloc even if we don’t seal an agreement in the coming weeks – as we’re unlikely to win a legal battle over the cash.
Brussels has claimed not securing a deal is “more likely than ever” now.
But Mr Hammond is said to have told the Cabinet this week that Treasury advice suggested it would be near impossible to hang onto the money promised to the EU for the divorce, The Telegraph reported.
A source told the paper: “He said that the Treasury’s legal advice was that if we left without a deal we would still have to pay the EU £30-36 billion because we would be unlikely to win any case that went to international arbitration.”
This is despite Dominic Raab insisting that they won’t get the cash unless they “fulfil their side of the bargain” and sign a trade deal with the EU, and Theresa May saying nothing would be agreed until everything is agreed.
A source close to the Chancellor defended his comments, saying: “This is not Philip being a Remoaner. He is growing increasingly frustrated with the EU’s tactics, and although he won’t say it publicly his stance on how much we should pay them is hardening.”
But fuming Brexiteers said there was no legal standing for us to pay them a penny.
Jacob Rees-Mogg stormed: “It’s simply wrong.
“The House of Lords produced an authoritative report which set out that we have no obligation under UK, EU or international law to pay anything if we leave under the terms of Article 50 without a withdrawal agreement.”
He said the Treasury was “so mired in Project Fear it wants to search out the weakest legal arguments for the most expensive outcome for the British taxpayer.”
And Brexiteer Steve Baker backed him up, posting links to the relevant report online.
A Treasury spokesperson told the paper that “we are a country that honours our obligations”.
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The news comes just as Theresa May prepares to fly to Brussels for a crucial showdown with EU leaders on Brexit.
She will make what could be her final address to them tonight, to try and reach a deal, before being booted out so they can discuss her offer over dinner.
The EU’s Donald Tusk has billed the summit as a “moment of truth” for Brexit – but both sides are not optimistic of a deal being reached soon.
Mrs May told the Cabinet yesterday they can seal a deal if they “stand together” and stop bickering.
But the top team are divided about how to deal with the thorny issue of the Irish border, which has yet to be decided.
Brexiteers in the Cabinet demanded to see legal advice of whether any backstop which keeps Britain in the EU could be temporary or not.