The British government has refuted the statements of Brexit Minister Suella Braverman, who revealed that the UK is set to accept the £39-billion Brexit settlement to the EU before the future legal conditions are struck. According to the Independent newspaper, the Cabinet reacted by saying “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.”
“We are clear of our intent to agree the future framework at the same time as the withdrawal agreement…Parliament will vote on the withdrawal agreement at the same time as the terms of our future relationship with the EU,” May’s spokesman said, cited by the Independent.
He pointed at the December agreement between London and Brussels, which covered the divorce payment as well as provisional terms on the Irish border issue and EU rights, telling the media that “I'm not sure why you make the suggestion the EU wouldn't honor any agreement that they've made."
Talking to the Parliament’s Brexit Committee, one of the leading Brexiteers and former Chair of European Research Group of pro-Brexit MPs, Braverman said that the EU would be bound only by a “duty of good faith” in negotiations about trade relations after the UK leaves the bloc in March 2019. At the same time, London would be legally bound to pay the £39-billion financial settlement.
This contradicts the previous claims by Cabinet members, as Brexit Secretary David Davis earlier implied that the divorce bill could be used as leverage to reach a more advantageous deal for the UK.
The December agreement, outlining the Brexit conditions, hasn’t been turned into a legal document yet. One of the stumbling blocks in the road is the arrangement for the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland after the UK leaves the EU single market and the customs union.
London's pullout might create difficulties for the free movement of goods and workers between Ireland and the Northern Irish counties of the United Kingdom, and return a "hard" border between them in potential violation of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
The Houses of Parliament are to vote later this year on the final treaty as they need to ratify the Brexit bill agreed upon with Brussels, which will include the financial settlement along with details of the transition period and framework for trade and security relations.
The UK’s payments to the EU budget have been one of the major issues debated by the parties, since the United Kingdom is one of the European Union's major contributors. London and Brussels have been in talks on the UK’s withdrawal conditions since June 2017, following the nationwide referendum on leaving the bloc when more than half of the participants voted in favor of it. Britain is expected to pull out of the bloc by the end of March 2019, but London has been seeking a two-year transition period to smooth the withdrawal, as well as guarantees of a future relationship with the EU.