The United Kingdom must reach a financial agreement with Europe, before negotiating the other aspects of Brexit.
The French Economic Minister, Bruno Le Maire, said this on Tuesday, reasoning, “We want our money back.”
Speaking on the 24-hour news channel, CNews, Mr Le Maire levelled at Britain, “You started a number of initiatives, for which you promised to pay. Now you must pay.”
Reiterating the famous words of Britain’s former Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, who “never stopped repeating ‘I want my money back,” the French minister stated, “We in Europe are saying to the British: ‘We want our money back’.”
He considered, by analogy, “It is like if you were going to a restaurant, you order, eat the meal, and then you leave in the middle of the meal saying: ‘I will not pay the bill at the end of the meal.’ He considered, “You cannot do this.”
The minister gave his support to the EU’s Chief Brexit Negotiator, the Frenchman Michel Barnier, supporting “entirely [Barnier’s] approach …which consists in saying that until we have settled this problem…we cannot move onto the other issues.”
Mr Le Maire insisted, “Let’s reach agreement first, maybe not to the exact euro, upon this financial settlement, and then we can move onto the next stages of the negotiation.”
The divorce bill – the outstanding amount for projects to which Britain has already committed, is the subject of much debate at present. Brussels considers that this should be a figure of at least €60 billion, whilst the British media has mentioned a figure of €45 billion which Britain is prepared to pay, a figure refuted by the British government.