The Financial Express

UK 'must not let itself to be blackmailed' over Brexit bill

| Updated: October 21, 2017 19:46:09

UK 'must not let itself to be blackmailed' over Brexit bill


The UK must not allow itself to be "blackmailed" by the EU over its Brexit settlement bill, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has said, reports BBC.



Talks on the final settlement should begin as soon as possible "because that's good for business", Fox said.



Businesses around the world have become impatient with the slow progress of the negotiations, Fox added.



EU negotiator Michel Barnier said there had been little progress on key issues, and trade talks were "quite far" away.



Talks between the UK and EU have stalled over the failure to agree the UK's so-called divorce bill.



The UK wants to begin trade talks and discuss the future relationship between Britain and the EU as soon as possible, saying it would benefit both sides.



However, Brussels insists that discussions about the future relationship can begin only once "sufficient progress" on the "divorce fee", citizens' rights, and the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish republic.



Barnier said that at the current rate of progress, he was quite far from being able to recommend opening parallel talks on a future trade relationship.



No figure has yet been put on the divorce payment, but European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has suggested it could come in at about 60bn euros (£55bn).



Unconfirmed reports have put it as high as 100bn euros (£92bn).



Britain, which voted to leave the EU in June 2016, officially began Brexit talks on 19 June this year and is due to leave the EU on Friday, 29 March 2019.



Speaking in Japan on Friday, Fox said everyone would benefit from Brexit if the outcome was free trade with no tariff barriers.



Asked whether it was time for the UK to name its Brexit price, he told ITV News: "We can't be blackmailed into paying a price on the first part (the divorce fee).



"We think we should begin discussions on the final settlement because that's good for business, and it's good for the prosperity both of the British people and of the rest of the people of the European Union."



 Fox and Prime Minister Theresa May have been holding talks with Japanese leaders about the future of trading relations between the two countries after Brexit.

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