The leading Brexit minister has said that the U.K. is legally bound to pay the European Union the £39 ($52) billion “divorce bill” even if Britain and the union can’t come to a trade deal.
Theresa May’s government had previously claimed that the bill was linked to a future trade agreement.
Suella Braverman, a Brexit Minister appeared before the Brexit Select Committee and said that “Parliament will vote on paying the so-called Brexit bill before the legal text of a future trade agreement is ready. Any decision to halt payments — which are due to continue for years — would require a renegotiation,” writes Bloomberg.
She also said the pricy divorce bill was a peace offering and “part of a broader package relating, and in the spirit of, our future partnership,” but it does not guarantee that the EU will agree to a trade deal since the withdrawal agreement “does not contain conditionalities.”
When asked if the UK plans to tie payments to a future trade deal, Braverman tiptoed around the question but did say the bill and trade deal “will be connected when we vote in October” and cited a “good faith” clause in the agreement.
“If there was going to be a change in circumstances whereby those payments were to stop, that would require renegotiating and looking at what’s been agreed when it comes to the financial agreement with the EU,” said Braverman. “The duty of good faith should not be ignored in this context. It’s more than just words.”
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, a leader of the Brexit campaign, also chimed in.
“Article 50 makes absolutely clear that the terms of the withdrawal have to be seen in the context of the future relationship,” said Johnson to reporters. “Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.”
Lawmakers will be voting on the Brexit deal later this year, but as Brexit Secretary David Davis has pointed out it will be difficult to approve a bill without knowing the details of the trade deal.
Author’s note: Even though Britain is leaving the EU, the country still feels like they owe the union. They will be forced to pay billions and get nothing back just so they can finally secure their borders. The UK paid £13.1 billion to the EU budget in 2016, so the divorce bill is roughly the cost of a three-year membership. The EU certainly makes it difficult to leave.