Theresa May's "secret" £50bn Brexit bill "nonsense" says David Davis

A broken Union flag on the backdrop of the EU flag

A broken Union flag on the backdrop of the EU flag

The EU's Brexit negotiator has said he sees the process as an opportunity to "teach the British people and others what leaving the EU means".

Last week, the European Union's negotiator, Michel Barnier, said the talks still had done nowhere near enough for there to be a prospect of moving on to trade discussions after October. It's like the hotel saying, "Oh well make an offer".

Barnier demanded on Monday that London start "negotiating seriously" as a March 2019 deadline looms, with talks stalling over what comes first - the divorce settlement or Britain's future relationship with the bloc.

Mr Davis used the speech to champion free trade as the way to tackle the "greatest social and economic challenges" facing the world.

This led to a frosty response from British ministers, one of whom, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, said the United Kingdom would not be blackmailed into doing a deal on money in order to open discussions on trade.

Meanwhile Mr Barnier claimed he needed to educate the United Kingdom about the price it would pay for leaving the bloc.

"They're trying to play time against money", Mr Davis told the BBC's Andrew Marr show.

He dismissed newspaper reports the United Kingdom had secretly agreed to pay a figure of up to £50bn as "nonsense".

Protesters wearing European Union flag masks
Protesters wearing European Union flag masks

"What he's [Barnier] concerned about of course is he's not getting the answer on money and they've set this up to try to create pressure on us on money", Davis said. It takes the laws there now and puts them in place the say after we leave. He wants to put pressure on us, which is why the stance this week in the press conference.

"Bluntly, I think it looked a bit silly". She described it as 'the single most important step we can take to prevent a cliff-edge for people and businesses'.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said some of the figures touted for the size of the divorce bill were "extravagant" and the United Kingdom would only respect a number that was "serious and validated in law".

While there was "no enforceable" legal basis for the United Kingdom to pay money to Brussels, Mr Davis said, "we are a country that meets its global obligations - but they have got to be there".

No 10 has told would-be Conservative rebels, most of whom favour a soft Brexit, that they risk allowing Labour and Jeremy Corbyn to capitalise if they block the bill's passage through the House of Commons.

He said the United Kingdom should continue to pay into EU budgets until 2023 - four years after the official departure date for the nation from the Union reports the Telegraph.

Brexit secretary David Davis called the report "nonsene" speaking to the BBC's Andrew Marr Show on Sunday morning.

Mr Davis believes any transitional period, during which the United Kingdom would continue to enjoy numerous benefits of the single market and customs union, should be limited to a maximum of two years, but a three-year spell - favoured by Chancellor Philip Hammond - would allow the lump sum to be split into smaller annual payments.

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