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    Anti-Brexit protesters wave EU and Union flags outside the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain, November 14, 2017

    Brexit Divorce Bill to 'Usher Progress for Next Stage of the Deal' - Professor

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    After months of fruitless negotiations, it seems that the UK has finally edged closer towards progressing a Brexit deal with the European Union.

    Though the UK seems to have caved in to EU demands on the Brexit divorce bill, it does not appear to be particularly favorable and will require massive reimbursement to the continental European powerhouses.

    READ MORE: UK Denies Asking EU to 'Park' Irish Border Issue in Favor of Brexit Trade Talks

    Sources are saying the figure to be paid to Brussels will be within a range of 40 to 55 billion Euros, as opposed to a fixed figure, with the aim of getting France and Germany on board to agree to further trade negotiations.

    The initial gross financial settlement will reach 89 billion pounds upon withdrawal from the EU bloc, however, the British government expects that the final net bill will be reduced by 50%.

    Sputnik spoke with Alex de Ruyter, Director of the Center for Brexit Studies at Birmingham City University, about the reported divorce settlement.

    Sputnik: Will the Divorce Bill deal speed up overall Brexit negotiations?

    Alex de Ruyter: Do I believe it will speed it up? I think the other issues still outstanding in terms of the Northern Irish Border and the status of the EU citizens still need to be clarified. The Northern Irish border, of course, is the key one as the Irish government has maintained a firm stance saying that they can’t progress until the EU put in concrete measures to avoid a hard border with Northern Ireland, which the UK government so far has prevaricated on.

    It appeared that the mooted divorce bill appeared to be the big sticking point but now it seems that the Northern Irish border will be instead.

    Sputnik: Is the fee demanded of Britain in the divorce bill fair?

    Alex de Ruyter: The fee represents commitments that we the UK have entered into. They range from all sorts of things, from funding future pensions, for EU workers all the way to funding things like Investment Banks; the European investment bank being once example.

    It funded infrastructure projects in the UK to the tune of billions that includes things like schools, hospitals and of course universities.

    I do think it’s fair and frankly never mind what the turnaround legal obligations are, I think that if you were to turn around and walk away and renege on your lending commitments, then your status in the international commercial markets would go through the floor. If you are then seen as an irresponsible creditor and we renege on those commitments, then were are reneging on funding for British institutions.

    READ MORE: Using Royal Family to Distract From Brexit is Wrong — Monarchist Foundation Head

    Sputnik: How will the Divorce Bill affect the claims of increased spending in areas such as the NHS?

    Alex de Ruyter: If you look at the reaction of the government now being reluctant to put the figure of net 50 billion on the table, which is about one billion per annum to pay it off over 40 years, the reaction in Tory remain circles has been a sigh of relief and big city traders now seem to think it will usher forward progress for the next stage of the deal.

    It’s quite notable that Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage and various others said that leaving the EU would be costless; they said that we would have 350 million pounds which we could send to the NHS for example. I’m not convinced that the politicians in question particularly care about the NHS but that’s another story.

    Far from being costless of course this is a real cost and in exchange for that; what do we get? We get nothing in exchange apart from the prospect that we may have a trade deal.

    People seem to labour under the conclusion that the funding projects elsewhere in the European Union are of no use to the UK.

    If you improve the connectivity of these regions, you improve the productivity of British businesses that rely on these supply chains. That is actually a benefit to the UK and if you think about it the EU comprises about half of our exports and we rely on them for a lot of imported components. In return; the rest of the EU only relies on Britain for about 10% of its exports

    Is Brexit a disaster waiting to happen? Potentially.

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