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Theresa May won't rule out paying EU 'many more billions' to start trade talks

Britain could be forced to pay the EU £36billion to move on to the next stage of Brexit – twice the current £18billion offer.

Today Theresa May would not rule out a doubling of the bill for our out­­standing EU commitments in ex­­­change for a start to vital trade talks.

After the European Council sum­­­mit in Brussels the PM three times refused to deny telling leaders we could pay “many more billions” than previously offered.

She said: “I have said nobody need be concerned... that they would have to either pay in more or receive less as a result of the UK leaving”.

PM alone at European Council summit
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Mrs May admitted there was still “some way to go” but said the two sides were within “touching distance” on other issues, particularly citizens’ rights.

But French President Emmanuel Mac­­­ron warned the UK “still had to make a substantial financial effort”.

He added: “We are far from having reached the necessary financial commitments before we can open phase two. We are not halfway there.”

However European Council Pres­­­ident Donald Tusk said reports of deadlock were “exaggerated”.

May with European council president Donald Tusk
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Progress was “not sufficient” to begin trade talks but that “doesn’t mean there is no progress at all”.

Labour MP Heidi Alexander said: “Like a teenager trying to get away with handing in their homework late, Theresa May is running out of excuses. To have not made sufficient progress 16 months after the referendum is an unambiguous failure.”

Fellow Labour MP Wes Streeting added: “This summit has done little to arrest the countdown to a hard and destructive Brexit that will damage our trade with Europe and put jobs at risk.”

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