LONDON: Brexit minister Dominic Raab issued a fresh warning Thursday that Britain would not pay the financial settlement promised to the EU after Brexit if there is no divorce deal.
London has agreed to settle its bill from four decades of membership, estimated at up to £39 billion (44 billion euros, US$51 billion), as part of a withdrawal deal.
But talks on the wider agreement have stalled, prompting concerns that Britain could crash out of the European Union in March 2019 with any deal at all.
Raab was speaking ahead of a meeting of Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet on the British government’s planning for a no-deal scenario.
One consequence would be that “we wouldn’t pay out the money that has been agreed”,” he told BBC radio.
“It’s not a threat, it’s statement of fact as part of our no-deal planning.
“We would be mindful of our strict legal obligations, but the amount and the phased way it is set out in the withdrawal agreement would fall away because there would be no deal.”
The final payment would be “substantially lower” than the estimate agreed so far, he said.
The Brexit negotiations are entering their final stretch, with both sides now aiming for an agreement in October or early November.
All EU states are also stepping up their planning for a no deal scenario.
The British government will later Thursday publish 28 “technical notices” covering issues as varied as mobile phone roaming charges and upholding environmental standards.
They follow a similar batch published last month, which are intended to inform businesses and citizens on steps they would need to take in the event of a no deal.
“These technical notices are part and parcel of our sensible, pragmatic approach to preparing for all outcomes,” Raab said in a statement.
“Getting a deal with the European Union is still by far and away the most likely outcome.”