London: Brexit Secretary David Davis said on Sunday Britain will not honour financial commitments agreed to this week with the European Union (EU) if they fail to secure a future trade deal, contradicting finance minister Philip Hammond.
“No deal means that we won’t be paying the money,” he told the BBC.
“It is conditional on an outcome. It is conditional on getting an implementation period, it is conditional on a trade outcome,” he said.
“It has been made clear by number 10 already. So that’s not actually new,” Davis added, referring to the Downing Street office and residence of British Prime Minister Theresa May.
Under an initial agreement reached with the EU on Friday, Britain will pay a financial settlement of between £35 billion-£39 billion (40-45 billion euros, Dh172-191 billion) for leaving the bloc in March 2019.
The 15-page document, detailing post-Brexit arrangements for citizens’ rights and the Irish border, was hammered out after nearly six months of negotiations and now allows the talks to move on to a future trade deal.
Davis’ stance contradicts comments from Hammond on Wednesday, who said London would pay the bill regardless of their outcome.
“Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed in this negotiation,” he told a parliamentary committee.
“But I find it inconceivable that we as a nation would be walking away from an obligation that we recognised as an obligation,” he said.
“That is not a credible scenario. That is not the kind of country we are. Frankly, it would not make us a credible partner for future international agreements.”
A spokeswoman for the Treasury reached on Sunday declined to comment on Davis’ remarks.
After securing an initial agreement on Friday to move Brexit talks to a second phase, Prime Minister Theresa May is keen to start discussing future ties with the EU, and especially the type of trading agreement to try to offer greater certainty for businesses.
But despite Davis striking a confident tone, EU officials say they will only launch negotiations on a legally binding treaty after Britain leaves and becomes a “third country”, according to draft negotiating guidelines.
“It’s not that complicated, it comes right back to the alignment point ... We start in full alignment, we start in complete convergence so we can work it out from there,” Davis told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show.
“The thing is how we manage divergence so it doesn’t undercut the access to the market,” he said, describing his preferred deal as “Canada plus plus plus”.