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Brexit UK must not become blackmailed
Liam Fox © Chatham House

Brexit: UK ‘must not be blackmailed’ over divorce bill


International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has said the UK must not allow itself to be “blackmailed” by the EU over its Brexit settlement bill.

Discussions on the final settlement should begin as soon as possible “because that’s good for business”, Fox said.

Organisations around the world have become impatient with the slow progress of the negotiations, he added.

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

Talks between the UK and EU have slowed 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, Belgium, has insisted that discussions about the future relationship can only begin once progress on the divorce fee, citizens’ rights, and the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish republic has been established.

No figure has yet been put on the divorce payment, but European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has suggested it could come in at around €60bn.

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

When asked whether it was time for the UK to name its Brexit price, he said: “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 EU.”

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

Pan European Networks Ltd