Brexit: UK could quit EU without paying a penny, say Lords
Report says British government has no legal obligation to pay for Brexit or outstanding payments into EU budget
By Jennifer Rankin
First published on Sat 4 Mar 2017 00.01 GMT
The UK could walk away from the European Union in 2019 without paying a penny, the House of Lords has said, in a report bound to raise tensions with Brussels in the run-up to Brexit talks.
The British government would have no legal obligation to either pay a €60bn (£52bn) Brexit bill mooted by the European commission or honour payments into the EU budget promised by the former prime minister David Cameron, according to analysis by the House of Lords EU financial affairs sub-committee.
In a report published on Saturday, the committee argues that the British government would be on strong legal ground if it chose to leave the EU without paying anything, adding that Brussels would have no realistic chance of getting any money.
The peers stress, however, that if the government wants goodwill from EU countries and a deal on access to European markets, agreement on the budget will be important.
“The UK appears to have a strong legal position in respect of the EU budget post-Brexit and this provides important context to the article 50 negotiations,” said Lady Falkner of Margravine, the Liberal Democrat peer who chairs the sub-committee.