EU divorce settlement shows UK Government “useless at negotiating”

Photo Above: Theresa May © Policy Exchange on Flickr

Former SNP MSP says that news of a financial settlement to the EU of around £44bn (€50bn) shows that the UK Government cannot handle the negotiations.

The UK Government has offered up to €50bn as a financial settlement to the European Union, a figure disputed by Downing Street.

Christian Allard, a French national and former MSP for the SNP, has said that the news is ‘‘welcomed because it confirms what we already knew, that the UK Government is useless at negotiations.”

The proposal from the UK Government was allegedly offered to Brussell’s last week after a cabinet meeting. Today, Downing Street downplayed reports that the final settlement could be between £45bn and £49bn (€50 and €55bn), more than double the figure that Theresa May suggested in September.

The UK Government is hoping to confirm the divorce bill ahead of an EU summit in December.

The divorce bill is one of the key areas that must be agreed as part of phase one of the negotiations, the two other sticking points being the rights of EU citizens in the UK, and UK citizens in the EU, and the Irish border issue.

Theresa May had intended to hold bilateral negotiations, allowing for trade deals to be discussed at the same time as the key issues identified by the EU for phase one.

However, the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier dealt the first blow to the PM when he insisted on phased negotiations.

Citizens’ Rights

Now that the UK is showing signs of compromise on the financial settlement, Mr Allard hopes they will also address EU citizens’ rights and the Irish border crisis. He said:

Daniel Tetlow, co-founder of a campaign group, representing British citizens living in Europe, is disappointed with the UK government’s proposals on the rights of EU citizens and Brits living in Europe. Tetlow said:

‘‘We don’t feel this has gone far enough. A successful Brexit would be if the rights and situation of citizens in the UK and Europe would not change.

‘‘We think that EU citizens should have the automatic right to remain and should not have to apply for this new status, just in the same way that British citizens should have the right to stay where they stay in Europa.”

One of Tetlow’s main concerns for UK citizens in Europe is the right to free movement, to live and to work.

He said: ‘‘Those rights are threatened. I don’t believe that because the UK has agreed to a figure around 50 billion as reported that, that necessarily means that much is going to change.

‘‘I think the reason they did that is because they wanted to desperately move on to the next round of the negotiations because they realise that time is running out.”

The Irish border

The question remains as to whether or not there will be a hard border between Northern Ireland and The Republic of Ireland.

Christian Allard said:

‘‘The Irish question is the biggest unanswered question for Brexit” and despite the proposed financial settlement, it’s unlikely that the EU will allow for trade talks until a solution is found.

“As for Ireland, this is a lot more difficult, there is no easy solution. When and if Brexit happens, the Republic of Ireland will lose a lot. I can see that a fudge could be agreed between the EU and the UK, one that neither Dublin and Belfast would be happy with.”